OTC: Nuclear, tidal energy to supplement fossil fuels

Various energy sources will be required in the future to help supplement fossil fuels, said speakers participating in an Offshore Technology Conference May 8 panel discussion on alternative energy.

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, May 9 -- Various energy sources will be required in the future to help supplement fossil fuels, said speakers participating in an Offshore Technology Conference May 8 panel discussion on alternative energy.

The emergence of tidal energy in Canada and US advances in nuclear energy were among the options discussed at OTC.

Alison Scott, Nova Scotia deputy minister of energy, said Nova Scotia province officials are considering testing tidal energy devices in the Bay of Fundy.

"Tidal is a new industry," Scott said. "We're a long way off from being competitive with onshore wind power."

An Offshore Energy Environmental Research Association released a report in early May saying marine renewable energy in the Bay of Fundy could help provide sustainable energy for Nova Scotia.

Scott said the province owns the land being proposed for tidal energy sites. Provincial and federal representatives are working together, she said, adding that government also is concerned about protecting the area's fishing industry, she said.

"We want our economy to grow, but we want to reduce our carbon footprint at the same time," Scott said. "In Nova Scotia, we're convinced that tidal power will be part of the solution."

Thomas J. O'Connor, director of the Office of Gas Reactor Deployment for the US Department of Energy, said advancements in reactor technology are promising for what he called energy security, economic security, climate security, and national security.

The next generation of nuclear plants would involve Generation IV reactors, O'Connor said.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized a Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) demonstration project at DOE's Idaho National Laboratory. DOE currently is seeking public and industry comment on how to achieve NGNP goals.

Project goals call for a high-temperature demonstration reactor capable of producing hydrogen, electricity, and process heat. DOE is scheduled to construct an NGNP by 2021.

A high-temperature reactor would be cooled by helium gas, and it would operate at up to 950° C., which is about three times the temperature of today's light water reactors.

O'Connor said high-temperature heat applications could be used within the energy industry, possibly for oil sands recovery, enhanced oil recovery, petrochemical plants and refineries, and in the processes to create coal-to-liquids or coal-to-gaseous fuels.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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