BRAZIL'S CLEAN ENERGY EFFORT RIDES OCEAN WAVES
Surfers are not the only ones who will be enjoying the massive power of the Atlantic Ocean's waves on the Brazilian coast. For the first time in the Americas, ocean waves are to be used to generate electricity enough for 200 families in Ceará State.
RIO DE JANEIRO - If all goes as planned, by the end of 2006 Brazil will debut the first electricity-generating plant in the Americas that uses the power of ocean waves, churning out a potencial of 500 kilowatts on the Atlantic coast of the northeastern state of Ceará.
The project, which could generate enough energy to supply 200 households, is being developed by the COPPE engineering graduate program at Rio de Janeiro Federal University, which has already built a small-scale demonstration model at its Submarine Technology Laboratory (LTS).
Construction on the full-size plant became feasilble with an agreement signed Feb. 2 by the Ceará state government and Eletrobrás, the national electric company.
"Ceará has the ideal conditions because the Trade Winds blow there, generating good, regular wave action", explained Segen Estefen, coordinator of the project and head of LTS.
With some innovative technology, unlike what is being developed in other countries, this alternative and renewable source of energy will be competitive, with a cost equivalent to the energy generated by the hydroelectric dams already built in Brazil and 30 percent cheaper than wind energy, Estefen told Tierra América.
The new project is to be built on Brazil's Atlantic coast, near 70 percent of the 174 million people in the country, saving costs of transmission lines, which is what drives up rates for electricity coming from hydroelectric dams located far from consumers.
With 8,500 km of coastline, Brazil has enormous wave-power potential. Estefen estimates that it could contribute 15 percent of the electricity consumed in the country "within 10 to 15 years if the government decides to promote programs" in that direction.
The energy potential of all of the world's oceans is estimated at one or two terawatts, enough to cover the energy demands of the global population, but most of that potencial is not economically feasilble to tap into.
Using 10 to 20 percent of it "would be colossal", commented Estefen, adding that alternative sources "will always be complementary".
(OSAVA, Mario. Brazil's clean energy effort rides ocean waves. Tierramerica.
Disponível em: http://www.tierramerica.net/english/2004/0209/iarticulo.shtml. Acesso em: 30 jul. 2005)
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