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Will you be a consumer or profitable investor?

The landscape of power production, I believe and hope, has changed for good.

If we are looking for technologies that are more responsible and can give individual nations more control and security about their power supply, there is much to be positive about. For those looking to invest, here are two trends that may be worthwhile following.

The first and perhaps least mature is wave based energy production. There has been much talk for a long time about finding ways to harness the energy from the ocean to be used on a large scale. Research is being conducted by Checkmate Sea Energy on a product ominously called the Anaconda Energy Snake. It is a massive flexible tube made of a composite fabric and rubber mounted on a concrete base on the ocean’s floor. When waves hit it, it transmits a motion along its length that very much mimics an anaconda consuming a large meal.

This action in turn spins a turbine in the tail that generates power. A snake about 650 feet in length could generate 1MW. By comparison, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation has a total installed capacity of 438MW across The Bahamas. It is projected that farms of these sea energy snakes would be floating below the surface of British seas by 2014.

Secondly, piezoelectricity is a particularly exciting product potentially for The Bahamas because it produces energy based on traffic.

It is not really new technology, as it is commonly used in many products you may have today such as a quartz watch or cigarette lighter. This effect involves electricity being generated due to an object changing shape or experiencing some form of mechanical stress.

Therefore, when a vehicle passes over an electric generating device, the weight of the vehicle applies pressure to a plate in the road and this effect generates electricity.

For this technology to work you need lots of traffic which is usually no problem in most cities of the world and especially not a problem in The Bahamas. In fact, two years ago the Israeli company Innowattech Ltd. in partnership with the Israeli National Roads Company tested the system on a stretch of highway about 32 feet long. It is projected that an installation that is just over ½ a mile in length can produce enough electricity to power at least 200 homes. The great thing about the technology is that it does not impact the look of the road or vehicle performance, nor is it subject to the weather. For The Bahamas our traffic may produce sufficient power to keep traffic lights and street lights lit.

With more countries not only rethinking their energy use but taking concrete steps to change their energy ways, more research dollars will be spent in pursuing new and responsible energy production methods.

Where will you be in this equation – a consumer on the sidelines or a profitable investor?


Challenge:  Take the time to have a second look at up-and-coming firms dealing in green technology

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Sonia Brown is principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd and is a registered Professional Engineer.

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