Energy thirst-quenching via osmosis / Columns / The Foreigner

The Foreigner Energy thirst-quenching via osmosis. We are thirsty for more and more electricity. Norway is getting creative through ‘osmotic energy’ to generate electricity in Tofte on Oslofjord. Where freshwater and saltwater meet, such as where a river flows into a fjord or the sea, the salty water naturally diffuses towards the freshwater. Placing a membrane between the freshwater and the saltwater can capture that energy and convert it into electricity. The good news is the enormous potential. After all, think about the huge number of locations where membranes could be placed at saltwater/freshwater interfaces to capture the energy.

osmoticenergy, statkrafttofte, oslofjord



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Energy thirst-quenching via osmosis

Published on Monday, 21st January, 2013 at 09:59 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.
Last Updated on 22nd January 2013 at 10:39.

We are thirsty for more and more electricity. Norway is getting creative through ‘osmotic energy’ to generate electricity in Tofte on Oslofjord.



Where freshwater and saltwater meet, such as where a river flows into a fjord or the sea, the salty water naturally diffuses towards the freshwater. Placing a membrane between the freshwater and the saltwater can capture that energy and convert it into electricity.

The good news is the enormous potential. After all, think about the huge number of locations where membranes could be placed at saltwater/freshwater interfaces to capture the energy.

The bad news is that the technology is in its infancy. There is a long way to go before osmotic energy will be powering many homes.

The membrane is especially challenging. Impressive research continues on manufacturing and maintaining large swathes of the material. We also need to consider the environmental impact of building the plants and distributing the membranes in the water.

Yet the trials are exciting, especially that the ups and downs are being discussed openly. The ongoing tests are showing the potential, and the limitations of, this form of electricity generation.

Maintaining that balanced approach is vital for experimenting with, and analysing all renewable energy forms.

Calling it ‘free energy’, as one video does, for example, is wrong. Using energy always costs.

We still need to build, operate, and maintain the plant and membrane. The electricity needs to reach where it is used once it is produced. Pylons, transformers, and wires all require energy to make and each has an environmental impact.

The drawbacks should not stop us from trying. But ‘trying’ to do what? It seems that we wish to consume more no matter how much electricity we produce.

From heated pavements to large flat-screen televisions and computer monitors, our electricity appetite is insatiable. We seem to embrace the flawed idea that energy (and electricity) can be free as renewables increasingly enter our lives,

Kudos to the innovators personifying osmotic energy and other renewable sources. It cannot stop there.

Let us apply such effort and creativity to reducing our electricity demand.

Dr. Ilan Kelman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).



Published on Monday, 21st January, 2013 at 09:59 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.
Last updated on 22nd January 2013 at 10:39.

This post has the following tags: osmoticenergy, statkrafttofte, oslofjord.





  
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