Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Look to tides to generate energy


May 2, 2019

Haines will soon be on diesel power again because of an equipment failure, burning more oil and costing us all more money.  Last time it was low water levels at Goat Lake.  And next time? 

There are only so many sources of power available to small, isolated communities.  If you don’t believe we need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, I’m not going to try and convince you here.  But back in reality, it’s too dark for too long for solar, local winds are unpredictable, and solar and wind require huge storage capacity.  There are only so many wood chips in the forest and some experts believe the quality of our trees is marginal, at best, for power generation.  Dam/hydropower depends on rainfall and predicting future precipitation levels will take a crystal ball.  We don’t have enough poop for bacteria-generated power, even with year-round cruise ships. 

And then there’s tides – they come in, they go out.  They come in, they go out.  Forever.  Haines has one of the largest tidal ranges on Earth.  Tides don’t need storage capacity – they turn the meter backwards.  We could generate electricity to run and heat buildings and charge our cars.  We could power greenhouses, producing food all winter and reducing waste and transport costs.  Engineers at UA have probably crunched the numbers on this already – and if not, that’s another good reason not to cut university funding now.  

Gershon Cohen


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