Comparing to this, buying a Prius actually seems like a fairly smart idea. No kidding; we have an effort at generating power from waves, funded by your tax dollars, spending sixty million dollars to generate about 400kW peak power, or enough to power 400 homes.
Calculating things at a 25% duty cycle with a wholesale electricity cost of a nickel per kW-H, and you've got an ROI of about .1-.2%--and that before capital depreciation is accounted for. Typical ROIs in the private sector are literally a hundred to two hundred times higher, and one would do better, literally, to put the money in your savings account.
However, it gets worse. It makes whole sectors of the ocean floor off limits to fishermen (who understandably don't want to have a few kV come up through their lines), and it actually may make pollution worse. No, I am not making this up; making 2000 tons of steel and other materials and hooking it to the bottom of the ocean will require the burning of 5000 to 10000 tons of coal--more when you count the energy required to build, site, and maintain them. Given a 10-20 year life cycle for these things, they will probably NEVER produce enough energy to compensate for the coal burned to build them.
As my brother notes, "environmentalist" too often means "people who cannot do math," and this is a textbook example of this principle. It would literally be better to pay utilities to replace older power plants with new coal fired units, environmentally speaking.
Manvotional: Jack London on Developing a Philosophy of Life - Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an article Jack London wrote for a journal on writing. But the principles he outlines can be applied to all...
23 minutes ago