National Geographic : 1977 Dec
"The seas could supply all our energy needs" Could tomorrow's energy come from the sea: Some think so. Others be lieve the sea too vast, too inhospita ble to harness on a major scale. Who's right? The ocean's energy is enormous. Tides rise and fall twice daily, some times 50 feet. Swift currents flow around the world. Temperature dif ferences between surface and deeps run as much as 23. Massive waves roll endlessly. Converting these forces to useful work tantalizes energy experts. They visualize offshore generators powering coastal cities. They dream of ocean generated hydrogen gas replacing today's fossil fuels. The potential seems boundless. Yet except for a few tidal dams, no ocean harnessing system exists. True, the technology is fairly well ad vanced. We can build generating plants, skyscraper-tall, far out to sea. We know how to make hydrogen from water. We can transmit power under water. But, the investment to apply this technology would be enormous. And there are unan swered questions of ownership, se curity, maintenance of mid ocean facilities. Today's main energy sources, oil and natural gas, will run low. Then what? Ocean power? Not for decades, if ever. Oceans should be investigated, along with all other energy pos sibilities. But attention must go to each prospect in order ofpracticality. We need a national energy policy to establish best use for existing re sources and to set developmental priorities for everything from readily available coal to more futuristic sources. That policy should be a blueprint of the rights and respon sibilities for consumers, producers and government. Caterpillar products are used in many phases of energy production. We be lieve wise management of all our energy resources is essential to America's future. There are no simple solutions. Only intelligent choices. r CAT ERPILLAR Caterpillar,Catand0 areTrademarksof CaterpillarTractorCo. "Ocean power is years away!"