Scuba-Powered Mini-Windmills Bring Blacktip Island Renewable Energy

underwater windmills

Blacktip Island scuba divers will help the small Caribbean island transition to renewable energy by towing small turbines like this behind them while they dive. (photo courtesy of Donald Trung)

A group of Blacktip Island environmental activists have launched a plan to use small underwater windmills, powered by the small Caribbean island’s scuba diving guests, to provide a sustainable, renewable source of energy, group members said Thursday.

“Electricity’s expensive on this little rock, and diesel-powered generators are killing our environment,” Blacktip Ecological Revolution Consortium president Harry Pickett said. “We have the technology to generate electricity from waves and currents, but those aren’t always reliable. That’s where the divers come in.

“We’ll have diving guests tow small turbines around behind them to generate electricity as they swim,” Pickett said. “There’s no shortage of divers, and once we explain the situation to them, most’ll be happy to help. It gives their dives a purpose beyond just looking at fish.”

Island officials say the initiative is a good, if limited start.

“Divers with little mini-windmills won’t provide a ton of power, but it’ll definitely add something to the overall grid,” public works head Stoney MacAdam said. “We’re trying to lessen our carbon footprint, so every little bit helps. We’ll be running power cables from the power plant out to the most popular dive sites so folks can take the turbines off the boat, plug in underwater and go to town.”

Some on the island opposed the plan.

“Everybody knows windmills kill birds and cause cancer. How do we know these gizmos won’t do the same to fish and divers?” Catalina Luxfer said. “All this rush to go green and be energy independent is likely to cause more problems that it solves. Diesel-generated electricity’s worked fine in the past. First rule of living on Blacktip: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Several island dive operators see hidden benefits to the plan.

“We already got divers coming in and asking about this, eager to help, wondering when they can start,” Eagle Ray Divers operations manager Ger Latner said. “Soon as Harry and them get these what’s-its operational, we’re gonna start doing special ‘green dive’ charters. For a slight upcharge, our guests can go generate some electricity and feel good about helping the island.

“Truth be told, we’ll work up a underwater windmill specialty course, for safety reasons, to get divers certified as Windmill Divers,” Latner said. “There’ll be a fee for that, of course, but folks’ll jump at the chance to save the planet. And they’ll get a t-shirt, too.”

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