SF Mayor Gavin Newsom: Power America With Ocean Energy


2Our country has finally woken up to the need for a green energy future. Now we need to invest in the technology to make America the world leader in renewable energy. Offshore wind power is one promising source of energy that is commercially viable today. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimate that the wind off America’s coast could generate nearly 1,000 gigawatts — a little more than the current U.S. electrical capacity.

Ocean power, while not as developed, is every bit as promising. California has more than 745 miles of coastline, and every mile has daily energy transfers in the form of waves, tides and current. Estimates vary, but experts suggest that more than a quarter of California’s energy demand could be met by technology that harnesses these forms of ocean energy. Continue reading the full post.


tom p.

the city of san francisco would spend its time and money far more effectively by promoting building retrofits for energy efficiency. not nearly as sexy as *wave power* but far more bang for the taxpayer dollar.

wave power sounds great, but unfortunately will not ever be a significant contributor to reducing our nation’s or san francisco’s dependence on fossil energy. the other options available to us are far more cost effective and efficient, less environmentally invasive, and have far higher theoretical potential for energy capture than wave and tidal options.

by definition, devices that capture wave energy remove that energy from the wave – how are surfers and near-shore marine life impacted? capturing tidal energy involves underwater turbines or massive tidal dams that destroy tidal estuaries. underwater turbines sound good, but the theoretical energy potential is not high relative to what we can already achieve with wind and solar.

there are countless scientists who have been studying the various options available to us and wave energy is almost always at the bottom of their lists, and usually is not even mentioned as a serious option. this is *not* because it hasn’t been seriously studied, but because it is not a serious solution.

let’s stick to the areas that have real potential and not waste our taxpayer time and money on a political attention grabbing effort.

hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles
electric vehicles
building and home efficiency
more efficient internal combustion engines


Tom P,

You make some valid points. Energy efficiency does offer more energy savings for the investment. SF is taking a comprehensive approach that pays a lot of attention to energy efficiency improvements that property owners can make, as well as working all avenues towards installing more renewable energy in the city including. I don’t think it’s a waste of time or money to figure out the real potential and effects that can be seen from all possible means of saving and producing energy, and then move forward from there to develop these resources in the most effective manner.

However, it is important to note that the issue of taxpayer dollars is not in play here since the work being done on studying the potential for wave and tidal power is grant funded and taxpayer money is not used for these projects.

The impacts on marine ecosystems have been and will continue to be carefully considered in these studies.

It’s important to understand that the need for electrical load reduction and increased generation from renewable sources as it is being pursued now came about from the desires of the city and residents to close the Hunter’s Point and Potrero power plants. With these goals in mind, SF has taken an aggressive and comprehensive approach to meeting the energy supply challenges presented by the need to satisfy reliability demands of the state ISO in order for the city to obtain permission to close these polluting plants.

There is a lot of good information about the work being done by SF’s Dept. of the Environment, as well as the city’s Electricity Resource Plan and Climate Action Plan available on the SF Environment website at http://www.sfenvironment.org/

Michael W.

America’s oceans *are* severely untapped for energy. Our power grid is outdated and awful at the best of times and we rely on rivers to bring us some power in the west, why not the far more powerful oceans?

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