SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM PURSUES OCEAN POWER

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom speaking on ocean power
before the Golden Gate Bridge June 25 2007

Photos by Bill Wilson © 2007-2009

BY TOM ZELLER JR.

Following up on last week’s unveiling of electric vehicle charging stations in front of San Francisco City Hall, Mayor Gavin Newsom is apparently turning his attention to ocean power.

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San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, right, June 25 2007 details
tidal power harvesting in artist rendition with Pacific Gas and Electric
Company (PG&E) Chief Executive Officer Tom King. Led by King,
the private sector agency contributed $1.5 million to make it possible
for a study of San Francisco tidal power to begin in July.
San Francisco Bay is one of only 15 locations worldwide suitable
for large scale production of energy from movement of the tides.
Safe for Bay ecosystems including fish and marine mammals,
tidal power could deliver 12% of San Francisco electric needs
with no carbon emissions — the cause of global warming.

Blogging today at CleanTechnica.com, Mr. Newsom said the city had submitted a “preliminary permit application” to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, aimed at developing a wave power project off San Francisco.

Wrote Mr. Newsom:

We believe [the project] can generate between 10 to 30 megawatts of energy, with potential of up to 100 megawatts. When this project is fully operational, upwards of 100 jobs could be created in San Francisco.

Ocean power is a true “game changer” in the area of renewable energy. When wave and tidal power technologies reach commercial scale, they are expected to be able to provide thousands of megawatts of power to our coastal communities, dramatically green our energy portfolios and create thousands of new American jobs.

In San Francisco, we’ve been doing our part to spur these technologies by aggressively advancing tidal and wave power pilot projects. We are 100 percent committed to this challenge.

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It was unclear which of the many varieties of wave-harnessing systems the city is exploring, but whatever it is, bringing it to commercial scale is almost certain to prove a challenge.

As Kate Galbraith wrote for The New York Times last fall, “technological visionaries have painted a seductive vision of using ocean tides and waves to produce power. But the technical difficulties of making such systems work are proving formidable.”

About 100 small companies in various countries are working on programs that harness waves or tides as renewable energy sources, but as Kate added in her story, “little electricity is being generated from the ocean except at scattered test sites around the world.”

See Related: GLOBAL WARMING

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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