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Powering the Future
AUGUST 2005
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Photo captions by Neil Shea
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Powering the Future Gallery Photo

Surf Power
Photograph by David B. Fleetham

Dwarfed in the deep, a diver inspects a recently installed wave-power generator off the east coast of Oahu, Hawaii. Called a PowerBuoy, the 45-foot-long (14-meter-long), 15-foot-wide (5-meter-wide) cylinder was built for a U.S. Navy research program. Held fast by a hundred-ton anchor and chain, the buoy sits underwater, waiting for good surf. The rise and fall of the buoy squeezes hydraulic fluid that turns a generator, producing electricity. The power is then sent ashore to a local military base. While the buoy program is intriguing, don't hold your breath waiting for waves to illuminate your beach house: So far, just one buoy has been deployed, and it is expected to average only 20 kilowatts of power, about enough for 14 homes. The Navy plans to add another buoy later this year.


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