During times of concern over environmental policies and steadily reducing reserves of fossil fuels attention is drawn to those inventors who create designs for new and innovative methods of creating power from renewable sources.
In the 1970’s Government funding was allocated on a comparatively short term basis to many experimental energy programmes and was likely to be withdrawn again after only a few years. Steven Salter’s oscillating ’ducks’ generated Electrical energy by absorbing the irregular motion of the waves and translating it into rotary motion to generate power.
It could be argued that Salter’s ducks did not receive a fair trial in that far too unrealistic expectations were made of the early models and unsurprisingly did not meet the extreme demands made of the device. It might be said that Salter was in the impossible position of having to prove the device at too early a stage of its development - and given
that continuation of funding might reasonable be linked with successful trials, the pressure to prove the efficiency of the device was huge. However also given that the seas around Britain are one huge energy reserve - hopefully and maybe - the principle will be resurrected to the benefit of a sustainable energy policy. - What effect might you expect the result to be, of the ‘dampening’ down of the action of the waves in an estuary or an offshore area ? How would you rate this invention ? Where do we go for answers to problems of sustainable energy development today ?
Renewed interest in Sustainable energy has created an environment in which many earlier experiments and projects are reconsidered and it is both sad - in the sense that logic should perhaps always have prevailed - but nevertheless fortunate that it is now far more politically acceptable for governments to be seen to be backing ventures that are clearly ‘green’. Salter’s Ducks were just one of a range of tidal, stream and ocean thermal energy conversion ideas that were shelved - not necessarily for failings in design but more for the expense necessary to prove such devices against the much easier tried, tested and historically used methods of burning fossil fuels - alternative ideas that fortunately now see the renewed light of interest.