Riding the recent wave of local discussion surrounding alternatives to fossil fuels, two lecturers will discuss the possibility of replacing energy from oil with tidal energy.
Mary Jane Parks from AquaEnergy Group Ltd., a Seattle-based renewable energy company, and Carolyn Elefant, a renewable energy law expert from Washington, D.C., will be the speakers at the event, which is the fifth in a series of seven lectures being hosted by the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council (CEC) that focuses on the development of alternative energy sources. The event is free to the general public and will take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Fleischmann Auditorium at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, but the CEC requests that those who attend make a $3 donation.
Parks said she will discuss a new technology that uses buoys placed off the California coast to convert the motion of the sea into usable energy. The buoys, she said, convert energy as they rise and fall with the waves.
“The ocean energy is a growing sector that needs more awareness and government funding,” Parks said. “The ocean is a tremendous resource in our country, and the potential energy that can be gained from ocean energy is five times more than that of fossil fuels.”
Karl Hutterer, executive director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, said the lecture will explore the idea that the large quantities of kinetic energy contained within ocean currents and waves could theoretically be harnessed and provide an alternative to traditional sources of energy.
“Just think of a wave,” Hutterer said. “It’s very powerful, and when you’re in the ocean, it can knock you over. That’s kinetic energy, and we want to take that and convert it into energy that humans can use.”
CEC Executive Director Bob Ferris said he has seen community members, elected officials and students show up for previous lectures. He said attendance throughout the series has ranged from 100 to 300 people, and he expects tonight’s lectures will draw similar crowds.
Ferris said the lecture series is aimed at promoting the creation of a solution that would reduce the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels by 2033.
“One, this has to do with the issue of gas,” Ferris said. “Gas prices are going up. Someone needs to get us off fossil fuel, and someone needs to figure out a way to inform the people about what is going on and what the options are. And two, someone needs to start so people can use it as an example. … [Santa Barbara] should be an example for the country, and eventually the world.”