Island Energy Technology / Science in The Ocean | World Anvil
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Island Energy

When the Cluster Islands were discovered, they seemed to be the perfect place to evacuate people from the eroding atolls in the western ocean. But no one had ever experienced earthquakes or volcanoes before, and a series of tremors and eruptions almost put an end to the expedition. Yet within two hundred years, those same volcanoes were put to use boiling underground aquifers into steam to power basic machines. Ever since then, heat from the heart of the islands has powered every advancement in technology, all but replacing every other source of energy.

Utility

Direct-steam plants provide steam power for industrial use in urban areas close to volcanoes. Where it is not feasible to place large plants, smaller generator plants may be used to produce lightning power.  

Development

Direct Steam

During the first few decades of the Volcanic Era, thermally powered steam machines were available only at the Zaiyevi hot springs where the first vents were discovered. Access had to be requested in advance and did not come cheap. But over the next century additional machines were built in other active areas and networks of pipes sent steam to locations where there were no vents, increasing the number who could use it.   The opening of Zaiyev's engineering school accelerated the research into volcanoes and geothermal energy. Experimenters early in the third Volcanic century artificially drilled steam vents to prove that the underground heat was everywhere, not just at the known springs and natural vents, greatly expanding possible locations for power plants.  

Steam-to-Lightning

Up through the first Volcanic milennium, lightning was regarded as a dangerous and uncontrollable force of nature. Then a Zaiyeve experimenter working with smaller spark charges created a device capable of storing up these charges and releasing them all at once later. Although dismissed as a curiosity at the time, this was the precursor to the lightning wheels carried by Water Seekers today, and opened the way to the development of lightning as a power source.   One result of the chemical research of the 13th and 14th Volcanic centuries was a power well that could be filled with lightning energy and was easier and safer to carry around than a sealed and pressurized steam container. By 1300 Vol these lightning wells were in common use in areas without access to direct steam, although filling them with charge was still tedious.   The end of the 1300s Vol saw the combination of magnets and lightning charges to make the first steam-powered lightning generator. It was still impractically large, but after another 150 years further design innovations made them easier to install in small areas that could not accommodate direct-steam plants.

Social Impact

Steam generated from island energy was an era-changing innovation, although that was not realized immediately. In 9950, to avoid having to use the unwieldy numbers that would be necessary once the year rolled over to 10000, the Zaiyevi volcano observation posts began to date their reports based on the year each post was established. To reconcile reports now coming in of identical observations with different dates, administrators chose as a reference year the first sustained use of a steam-powered tool, in 9848, and created the Oceanic / Volcanic designations. By 9974 Oce / 125 Vol the new year numbering system was in more common use, and Galtern accepted it as the standard for their recordkeeping the following year.   Not all welcomed the new technology. A philosophical movement called Tactilism idealized hands as the perfect tools and opposed the steam machines, which could operate without being touched. Late in the 120s Vol a group of Tactilists protested the spread of steam power, blocking access to plants and sometimes committing sabotage. But popular opinion was against them, and the anti-steam efforts lost momentum within a few years.   Being too far removed from the islands, Tideriders were the last to adapt to island energy. It would be another thousand years before the first lightning power plants were built, and still another fifty years before power wells became small enough and powerful enough to be useful at sail.
Access & Availability
Steam and lightning power is ubiquitous even on the more far-flung islands. Which is more prevalent depends on where you are--closer to the volcanoes themselves, steam is dominant; on outer islands and on boats, lightning is. This is due to the conduit network. Each anchor point contains a generator which powers the chain drive, and any boat in contact with the chain can siphon off excess lightning to charge its wells. Islands also can tap the conduits through the generator directly.
Discovery
In the 9690s Oce an island survey team found heated water pools and steam vents on the islands of Mraydor and Zaiyev. Because of its recent eruptions Mraydor was still considered too dangerous to settle, but the team established their outpost on Zaiyev and took advantage of the pools as a heat source.

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