Water for Energy – by Okenna Obi-Njoku


At about 7:30pm, the workshop started with high expectations, the participants were eager to understand the underlying principles behind energy generation with water, the possible ways of doing so, its sustainability and how soon such innovations will be put into full scale use.

Everyone was curious as Paul Lako of Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) began his presentation. Water is a viable source of renewable energy, but harnessing its energy had its limitations and challenges he said. The physical, geographical, technical, economic and implementation potentials have to be fully assessed before embarking on any of such project.

Going on he explained the alternative means of hydro-power generation, their capacities, limiting factors and energy contribution to the Netherlands and elsewhere. Each of these alternatives had its unique feature; the lake forming conventional hydro-power dam, the snake-like mechanism of wave energy, the freely flowing turbines in tidal stream power, the topology needed for tidal barrier energy,  the mixture of  sweet and salt water for osmosis energy, the aquatic biomass energy and the ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) power. So much was learnt, but that was not the end yet.

More interestingly, we formed groups to assess and rank the seven alternatives based on some criteria; environmental impact, scale, reliability/continuity and future prospects in Europe. Each group presented its results based on logic and some technical knowledge. Tidal current energy emerged top, but Paul’s ranking seemed otherwise, placing aquatic biomass energy rather.

Nice workshop we had, nice people we met and a lot was learnt. Think we were exhausted? No, we were more satisfied rather.

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