The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System

renewable energy, carbon dioxide sink, biodiesel, and food from the ocean

As there are so many areas that this project intersects with, I thought I should probably start a blog. I will try to limit this to sustainability, energy policy, climate change and renewable energy and its associated technologies. However, these subjects are connected with every element of human activity. Nevertheless, I will do my best to stay focused

The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System becomes Haven Atolls a shelter for coral and ocean peoples

Posted by on Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

In 2015 Ocean Foesters, a multidisciplinary team, began a detailed investigation into The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System. This process revealed that developments embodied in the patent pending Tidal Irrigation and Electrcal System 2 were substationally on the right track. This means that while the basis of this website is correct the details are out of date. 

Technical details are published on the website under the Sustainable Ocean Community (SOC) (patent pending).

The following open letter was published on the Climate Council’s page by Ocean Foresters looking at ways to save coral reefs and help bring a carbon neutral economy into being using deep ocean water and marine plants. We are calling the project Haven Atolls.

Haven Atolls: Saving the Great Barrier Reef from Global Warming

This letter is written on behalf of the Ocean Foresters Group, as cited by Dr Tim Flannery in his 2015 book Atmosphere of Hope, to present our proposed Haven Atoll system to help save coral biodiversity as well as reduce ocean acidity.

The 2016 survey of the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef found 95% of the coral is damaged or dead due to excessive ocean heat. Coral bleaching is not limited to Australia, but is occurring in every ocean around the world. The collapse of coral reefs affects the global food supply because about half of the fish that humanity eats spend part of their lives on coral reefs.

Apart from the ecological damage, loss of the world’s coral reefs would cause severe economic dislocation and food shortage for millions of people. Reefs also provide structural support and protection for coastal communities. Without living reefs, damage from erosion and sea level rise will be exacerbated.

The cause of the reef damage is excess carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere leading to global warming. In the medium term, humanity will develop the political will to implement carbon-free replacements for coal, oil and natural gas that will help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.

However, the real problem we face is that emission reductions alone are just too slow to prevent catastrophic biodiversity loss. The damage is happening right now. Immediate steps are needed to reduce the heat, acidity and nutrients that are killing our reefs.

The good news is we can save reefs now by providing cooler and cleaner water in atolls.

As Australian Climate Council Chief Councillor Dr Tim Flannery argues in Atmosphere of Hope, our group, the Ocean Foresters, have presented compelling argument that large scale deployment of artificial forests of seaweeds, kelps and algae is the most promising response to fixing ocean health and removing CO2 summarises Dr Flannery’s citation of Ocean Foresters. Our website,, also presents peer-reviewed scientific papers describing the overall system.

Ocean Foresters’ key initial proposal is called Haven Atolls, a practical system for protecting coral by growing large amounts of marine plants for fuel, food, fertilizer, fabric and fodder. Australia has the need, expertise, resources, locations and innovative culture to lead the world on Haven Atolls, specifically targeted to the coral systems under most threat from global warming. Haven Atolls will integrate the sourcing and recycling of nutrients for plant growth, the production of fresh water, the production of electricity and algae seaweed products and the protection of local corals into a single system.

The Haven Atolls key idea is to bring deep ocean water to the surface and feed it into coral atolls. This cool nutrient-rich ocean water can support sustainable aquaculture in a coral atoll. Importantly, once the nutrients have been absorbed by the aquatic plants, deep ocean water can be stored in large volumes and used to cool coral during heat waves. The Haven Atoll will serve as a reservoir of biodiversity and its coral and biota can be used to seed the dead reefs near the haven. The system will also produce fresh water and electricity.

Haven Atolls could include Hydro-Thermal Liquefaction (HTL), a proven method to produce gas and oil from any organic material, using heat and pressure. The fastest growing plants are aquatic, so HTL technology could be cost-effective based on marine algae. HTL is one of several components we propose as part of our plan to use Haven Atolls to help save the world’s coral from extinction.

The Haven Atoll project can make significant additions to global food security and help move toward the goal of negative carbon emissions, as identified by world governments in the Paris Climate Agreement as necessary to keep warming below two degrees. Time is the enemy of the world’s ocean creatures reliant upon corals. Our magnificent reefs are already dying. We do not know how many have gone extinct or will soon. By creating shelters for reef systems to adapt we can save the reefs, while developing practical technology for sustainable energy and food supply, and beginning to remove the dangerous extra carbon that fossil fuels have added to our air and sea.

In addition to Dr Flannery’s support, Ocean Foresters’ work has been recognized by a range of scientific leaders, but we still do not have the resources to demonstrate the Haven Atoll concepts in field trials. We would like the Australian Government to get on board, including through the Blue Economy Challenge now open from the Innovation Exchange of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We want to partner with Australian universities, CSIRO, government agencies, communities and private industry to implement rapid and practical methods to save our precious coral reefs from the looming extinction. If you can assist in any way, please contact us via reply here, or at our website

Mark Capron, M.S., P.E. – California Registered Engineer and inventor with expertise in marine engineering and anaerobic digestion (USA)

Jim Stewart, PhD, former research physicist and Professor, now environmental analyst and policy expert (USA)

Martin T. Sherman,– inventor and researcher in the marine renewables sector (UK)

Graham Harris, M.B.E., IT & commercial manager, company director, ex Royal

Navy diver and biologist. (NZ)

Robert Tulip, M.A. – researcher in large scale ocean based algae production, official with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia)

Mohammed Hasan, M.S., P.E. – California Registered Civil Engineer (USA)

Don Piper, M.S., M.B.A. – marine resources management consultant, entrepreneur and mentor to more than fifty projects (USA)

All participation is individual, not representing any institution.

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TIESystem Algal Growth can Replace Fossil Fuels

Posted by on Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

In December of 2014, I presented a poster at the American Geophysical Union’s conference in San Francisco titled ‘Carbon Sequestration through Sustainably Sourced Algal Fertilizer: Deep Ocean Water’. It compared the TIESystem (the central purpose of this website) with other potential users of deep ocean water (DOW). The paper then went on to examine the advantages of growing marine plants for energy uses like biofuels in a TIESystem on the continental shelf over growing algae in open ponds on the land.

While there, I met many interesting engineers and scientists who were kind enough to consider my proposal, offer advice and point out errors I had made. A few of these AGU meetings have led to collaborations that I intend to write about in a later blog. Critically, these conversations reinforced my conviction in the project and gave me new impetus.
Since returning to London, I have rewritten the poster in line with the new data. The most important change has been to the amount of marine plant growth that is to be expected in a cubic meter of DOW if it is exposed to sunlight. I had based my estimate of 5 grams on natural upwellings. However, this paper ‘Effects of Deep Seawater on the Growth of Several Species of Marine Micro-Algae’ experimentally verified a growth rate of around 147 grams per cubic meter of pure DOW.
This increase of approximately 29 times in the expected energy density of algal growth to DOW brought to the surface has profound implications for the TIESystem. Previously, I had focused on building TIESystems on tropical or subtropical continental shelves in order to gain concomitant electricity generation from the thermal potential in the seawater above 20c. Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) systems, under ideal conditions, can produce ten to twenty times as much energy as the tidal flow of water through a traditional turbine. However, this new data means that marine plant growth yields nearly ten times as much energy as OTEC possibly could. What is more, this amount of growth means that it is economically viable to build TIESystems on temperate continental shelves like the North American Eastern Seaboard or the Bay of Biscayne in Europe. Temperate seas are characterized by larger tidal fluxes than most of the tropics and a TIESystem’s biological productivity goes up in direct proportion to the tidal flux.

In 2014, world energy use totalled about 150,000 tWh. My estimates suggest utilizing less than five percent of world ice-free continental shelf into a network of about 200 TIESystems would generate enough biomass to equal that amount of energy (one kg wet marine plants equals 25 mJ which is about 6.97 kWh rounded which with collection and energy lost in generation I will put it at 5 kWh.) This could replace all fossil fuels with a CO2 neutral alternative that fits into our current energy framework. In other words, we would still have diesel-, methane- and gasoline-burning cars.  However, this energy would only release the CO2 that was absorbed in the original plant’s growth. Each one of these TIESystems in the network could pay for itself in seven years and then go on producing indefinitely. To view the poster ‘Carbon Sequestration through Sustainably Sourced Algal Fertilizer’:

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A Tidal Lagoon for Swansea

Posted by on Friday, February 7th, 2014

The west of the United Kingdom has some exceptionally wide tidal fluctuations. This has inspired several companies to propose constructions which exploit this. Tidal Lagoon Swansea Ltd. has now put forward its own scheme. The technology is maturing with companies like Tidal Electric developing in fields like Alaska and Mexico. TE also tried to harvest tidal energy in the Bay of Bristol but ran into planning constraints and the project faltered.

A similar fate awaited the Severn barrage but in that case this author feels that caution was warranted. By blocking off the whole channel the barrage would interfere with wetlands and the fish nurseries in them. Also the UK seems to be moving into a high precipitation phase and so decreasing flood runoff potential is political suicide.

The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System is also a tidal lagoon design but its unique feature is to harvest thermal energy from the water. Under normal conditions ten times more energy can be derived from the heat in seawater than from its tidal flow. Also, by introducing deep ocean water into the lagoon it becomes a bioreactor: a place to grow material that can be used to make food, fuel or fertiliser.

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Standing Waves Climate Swings

Posted by on Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

About a year ago I wrote a post about Fracking and the dangers of opening up a new fossil source of CO2. I also predicted that the societal and economic pressure to exploit this resource was probably going to surmount the warnings that the consumption of traditional carbons were likely to cause enormous climate change and sea level rise. The previous year has proved my prediction. Many nations are joining the bonanza. The scale of the reserve of shale is enormous and new fields are being discovered regularly. .
Sea level rise and global temperature rise is occurring but so far the floods in America, Thailand, Europe, China, Australia and elsewhere seem to be part of a pattern of extreme events that are in the recorded past. There has also been a discrepancy between the predicted global temperature rise and the actual recorded rate of increase since 1998. Climate change sceptics and some of those who perceive there to be an economic incentive to continue to invest political and fiscal capital in the current energy paradigm have used this deviation to delay investment and action. However, it should be no surprise that a complex system like the climate is behaving in a non-linear fashion.
Linear behaviour (or the smooth transition from one state to another) is actually the exception in nature. Earthquakes, economic booms and busts, and growth spurts in children are all examples of the tendency of systems to respond to long term pressure in jolts, arriving at a new resting energy state. Dr. Judith Curry illustrates the point beautifully in this paper on Eurasian sea ice. The implications are stark. We should expect the climate to change in waves, moving slowly and then suddenly changing into a new state. The geologic record shows that locales have moved from one type of landscape to another within a space of a few years and remained stable in that new state for thousands of years. The Sahara desert was once filled with a forested savanna in which humans swam and hunted big game for thousands of years – but for the last 5000 years it has been what we know now.
The underlining pressure on the climate to change is building, and the signs are there to see besides the rising levels of CO2. 2013 was the warmest year in the Atlantic on record. This is bad news for the productivity of the North Atlantic. Thermoclines created by the warmer water prevent the flow of nutrients to feed the marine plants at the base of the food chain. Incidentally, the overarching purpose of this site is to promote an invention by the author that surmounts the thermoclines and harnesses the potential energy. This reserve of energy in the North Atlantic will do more than change the species in the ocean and lower catches of cod. There are many climate faults that could break: The Greenland Ice cap, methane hydrates, melting tundra, and even earthquakes and volcanoes . One of these could cause the sudden change itself or trigger a cascade of events.
Switching to energy systems like the patent described in this site, which move us away from fossils fuels, has been urgent for more than a decade. Much potential energy has been put into the ocean and its full effects are yet to be felt.
The problem with sudden change is that the scale of the effort, the cost of the loss of property and infrastructure, and the number of simultaneous emergencies may push western society into chaos, at least for a while. For instance, the last time CO2 levels were at this level, sea level was around 25m higher than it is now. Let us imagine that this comes to its homeostatic level in a series of 2-3m pulses over the next 200 years: One every 20 years, sometimes none for 40-60 years – and then a big jump. An added factor is that the goal posts are constantly shifting: Emissions go up as more fossil fuels are burned, increasing the pressure on the environment to find a new and higher level.

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Potential Discovery of Multiple Terrestrial Impact Craters

Posted by on Thursday, January 31st, 2013

This is not my normal area of interest but recently I was looking at some high resolution topographical maps of Australia and noticed what looks like a series of impact craters. As they are all in a line and seem to have the same topographic profile, I surmise that they occurred in an event much like the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact with Jupiter. Take a look at the following images:



In the centre south of the country is the Nullabor Plain


To the north of the Nullabor Plain are a series of features that appear to be impact craters. (click on the below image to see it in full)

Notice the linear nature of the impacts and that the eastern edges appear to have a similar profile. The Nullabor Plain was created by separation of Australia from Antarctica and is structurally similar to the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Curvilinear features like these are unlikely, in my opinion, to be the result of an other event besides that of a celestial impact.


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Fracking Our Way to Mass Extinction

Posted by on Friday, April 27th, 2012

In the last few years new fossil fuel technologies such as oil shale and oil sand energy extraction, and more importantly fracking, has quietly opened up vast reserves of energy to nations all over the globe. It is rewriting the economic futures of countries like the United States, where access to cheap energy is making manufacturing competitive with the cheap labour in China.  This fiscal brightness shouldn’t blind us to the imminent danger that continuing the increase in carbon dioxide emissions creates. Building greenhouse gases, leading to increased global temperatures and ocean acidification, will impoverish humanity in the long term and short term.

We have been here before. In 1970, the American economy was cruising along as it had done since WWII: on cheap energy. The price of a barrel of oil quadrupled in 1973 and this lead to inflation spikes in any nation that did not have domestic supplies of oil sufficient to meet their economic needs. A series of causal relationships created the rust belt in the United States and the current economic/sociopolitical paradigm. The West’s need for cheap energy drives its relationships with the Middle East and this has been merely a bandage to stop the economic haemorrhaging that is masked by the euphemism “trade imbalance”. However, it didn’t need to be this way. The hard choice, the long term choice, would have been to vigorously pursue the technologies that we were investing in at the time. But we didn’t; wind, solar, OTEC, biomass, tidal – all were for the most part shelved for two decades and now are slowly being invested in and investigated. One can only wonder what the world would look like if political leaders had chosen to make energy security a national priority like food security once was in the cold war, and in any case, uncoupling the relationship between fossil fuels and the food we eat is pure fantasy as I wrote about  in my post Water and Soil -not Just Oil.

National, globally, we face a crossroads: We can choose to continue to invest in renewable technologies such as the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System or we can consume the non-renewable energy reserves. If we do choose to go the easy route, the cheaper route, the short term route, humanity will face catastrophic climate change. There will still be jungles and swamps and forests but they will be in new places. Thousands upon thousands of species that can not adapt fast enough will disappear as the climate changes. There will still be creatures like rats and sparrows and anole lizards but specialist or those in isolated populations like the Ethiopian Wolf will be gone.  Many of our cities and much of our farm land will be underwater in under a thousand years. Recent research has discovered that phytoplankton can adapt to higher concentrations of CO2  and that some corals can too but many species of plankton and shellfish seem unable to thrive. However, it is certain that the productivity of the oceans will decrease in a world with high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And ALL of this will be for the meagre benefit of a century’s more use of fossil fuels. The switch to renewable energy and bringing humanity’s carbon emissions in to balance with absorption by the environment will eventually need to happen and it can – it is a goal within our collective reach. However, it will take social movements and political leadership, otherwise the fossil fuel industry will exploit the resources that lie in the ground and leave our future with fewer species, less land and much of our past underwater. A poorer world it will be.

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Corn won’t Feed our Tanks

Posted by on Thursday, March 1st, 2012

There isn’t going to be a single fix to the problem of our race’s need for more energy. It is inevitable that the vast majority of the world will technologically develop and adopt a western style of consumption and energy use – and our population is still rising. Energy efficiencies and new sources of energy will need to be found. In this spirit, the USA passed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) in 2007. However, sometimes distortions by special interests lead to improper policy.

It is a great idea to use food that would go to waste as source material for biofuels. It is a terrible idea to grow food for biofuel. Crops, like corn and wheat, consume energy. Water needs to be pumped for irrigation; fertilisers and pesticides need to be manufactured and distributed; machines need to harvest and process the food.  All of this consumes energy currently in the form of fossil fuels. By all accounts, the system is unsustainable and with the increasing pressure of population rise and globalisation, the crunch will happen sooner rather later. This is a frightening scenario.

Food system crashes have occurred before to humans, and they are happening now. Some are worse than others, but they all leave the societies traumatised. And make no mistake: a food system crash mean poverty, starvation and death. It is a moral imperative to avoid adding to this problem.

It has been apparent for quite some time that growing corn as the source material for biofuel consumes more energy than it produces and uses more water than is sustainable. Unfortunately, this was not taken into account during the drafting of the EISA or perhaps it was and the agricultural lobbyist groups and the politicians chose to manipulate the bill for profit. The call for an increase in production to 136 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022 would seriously compromise the US economy, water supply and food supply. In a recent paper by W. Kolby Smith and associates to Environmental Science and Technology, it was estimated the US would need to devote 80 percent of  farmed land to meet the target or convert 60 percent of the land used to raise livestock.

The wider issue of “green  washing” (the distorting of facts to give technologies a false appearance of being of ecologic benefit) is fraud of the highest order and industry lobbyists and politicians must think beyond momentary benefits. History teaches that often the elites are not spared during system collapses.

Second and third generation biofuels and alternative energy sources are rapidly developing.  By exploiting new resources such as Deep Ocean Water (DOW) via the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System (the invention to which this website is devoted), it is possible to feed and power human global civilisation.

By growing marine plants we do not need to make additional demands on fresh water supplies and in its production it is possible to produce terrawatts of electricity. For a full explanation please explore this site. However the simplest summery is that, currently we use the oceans as hunter-gatherers and with this technology we can become farmers of the sea: Aquaculteralists.


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Utilising Alginate with 80% Efficiency

Posted by on Friday, January 20th, 2012

Harvesting kelp for biofuels has a huge potential. It can be grown pretty much anyplace where the holdfast at its base can gain an anchor within reach of light and as long as the nutrients that it requires are available for growth. This happens in two kinds of places: the frigid waters of the high latitudes and the frigid waters near where currents upwell from the deep ocean. The link between these things is obviously the cold.

Any body of water when it is warmed by the sun at the surface will tend to separate itself into thermocline gradients. The sharply defined layers prevents the mixing of the waters inside them. This leads to a leaching of nutrients needed for plant growth and so by mid spring in places like the north sea primary biological production has for the most part stopped. Deep Ocean Water (DOW), where these nutrients abound, represents 99% of the volume of the ocean and are just out of the reach of marine plants, separated by a thin skin. This is why the tropical oceans are crystal clear. There are almost no microscopic plants (micro algae) in the water to turn it green.

That is not to say that that the potential of seaweed isn’t huge. A company called Bio Architecture Lab based in Berkeley California has perfected an enzyme and process which liberates the sugar from alginate. This single substance represents 30% of the dry mass of seaweed. BAL’s method has an 80% efficiency rate of the theoretical yield. This is a huge advance and by their figures the harvesting of seaweed from 3% of costal waters would generate 60 billion gallons of biofuel.

The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System opens up large areas of coastal ocean to macroscopic algae cultivation that would not normally grow commercially harvestable amounts of seaweed.  It does this by using tidal forces to syphon DOW into a lagoon where it is isolated from the surrounding ocean and creates a large bioreactor. It does this while producing food and gigawatts of electricity. (Please see the links on the right of this page for further details of the products of the system)

The new increase in efficiency in the processing of seaweed by BOL will result in a huge gain in production for the TIE System. The two technologies are made for one another.


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Fuel from Artificial Photosynthesis

Posted by on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Even though this technology may seem to be in competition with the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System it actually isn’t, and in any case it is wonderfully exciting. Sun Catalytix has developed a cobalt and phosphate coated silicon sheet that is immersed in water. When exposed to sunlight the water is catalyzed into its component parts i.e. hydrogen and oxygen. This can then be used as fuel for transport or to power the home. According MIT scientist Daniel Nocera the process, which mimics photosynthesis, is robust enough to be used with grey water.
This technology creates power and the potential resource is enormous as does the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System. However, there are some issues that are poorly addressed by this form of power generation. The coming centuries will find humanity short of fresh water, fertilizers and food as well as power for industry and commerce. A mix of technologies will be called for in the future which achieve desired products so they involve the minimum number of transformative steps because as energy is converted from one form to another roughly 40 percent of its potential is lost.
Sun Catalytix’s research is available via the company website.

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Sea Lettuce Farms to Reverse Ocean Acidification

Posted by on Saturday, February 5th, 2011

The growth of homogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution has convinced the majority of the scientific community that the earth is poised to begin an ever increasing warming trend. It has terrified the most influential scientists and lead to the advanced study of geoengineering schemes. At the cost of billions, if not trillions, of dollars the earth may be shaded by items floating in space or by changing the atmosphere, or some other modification so that less light reaches the ground. A few of these plans attempt to deal with the problem from the other side – by absorbing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere in the hope to offset the burning of fossil fuels. Flue filters and artificial trees seem like good ideas, except that the energy cost is very large and there are no storage solutions that can guarantee containment for geologic time. By this reasoning, shading the earth seems like the way to go.

There is, however, a whole different set of problems created by having an excess of CO2 in the air. This is about how the atmosphere and the oceans interact to create carbolic acid and is known as ocean acidification. I blogged about it here. The long and the short of it is that as the ocean becomes more acidic, corals and some planktons find it harder and harder to grow until they die off. As the effect increases, the whole oceanic food web breaks down. The major geologic models we have eventually resulted in extinction events, the largest of which killed off 95% of  the life in the ocean. We are a long way off of that but even a slight change can have remarkably deleterious effects on the ocean’s ability to produce food. Some of the latest horrifying figures can be found in this article, which details a report from the UN and this one about a model of surface uptake.

One biologist, Ronald Osinga, presented an interesting idea at a symposium involving the growing of sea lettuce (ulva lactuca) to combat the acidification of the ocean.  Roelof Kleis wrote an article about the symposium which was held at Wageningen, the Netherlands by the International Society for Reef Studies (ISRS). It had an emphasis on climate change and the deleterious effects it will have on coral reefs. Presented on the last day, Osinga pointed out the pollution caused by current fish farming techniques could be utilised to grow sea weeds for human consumption or for food for fish.

Osinga and his colleagues have calculated that a ‘marine garden’ of 180,000 square kilometres could provide enough protein for the entire world population. A sea lettuce bed of such gigantic proportions would raise the pH (acidity level) of the Mediterranean Sea by one tenth. That may not seem much, but according to Osinga, it would be enough to compensate for the rise in acidity that started with the industrial revolution.

My criticism of the scheme is that it fails to account for the eventual nutrient loss if either the fish or the sea lettuce are taken from the system for consumption by humans. This aside, the proposal does have huge implications for the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System (TIE System), the subject of this blog. One of the key components of a TIE System is its ability to deliver the nutrients necessary to a lagoon isolated from the surrounding ocean, in order to create a sustainable aquaculture. It does this while producing electrical power.

The TIE System is driven by tidal action and so it is difficult to estimate the amount of power generated by Osinga’s 180,000 square kilometre figure. But, if there was a tidal swing average of 2.33 meters and each TIE System had a diameter of 20 kilometres, the 573 aqua farms should produce about 36.3 TeraWatt Hours every flux. This is on top of producing the sea weeds necessary to change the pH of the oceans to offset the consequences of fossil fuel use AND feed the whole population of the world.

It is worth noting that 36.3 TeraWatt hours per flux is about 23,849 TeraWatt hours per year. In 2007 world consumption of electricity was 17,109.7 TeraWatt hours. The economic and societal imperative to develop the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System seems to become increasingly evident as time passes.

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