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Power Science Technology

Floating Wind Turbine Platform 228

Posted by samzenpus
from the dust-and-energy-in-the-wind dept.
Sterling D. Allan writes "Inventor Tom Lee is nearly ready to strike a deal to install a flotilla of offshore wind turbines, combined with hydrogen-generating capability and battery storage, which he says will enable them to have the consistency needed to be a primary grid energy provider, and not just supplemental to the gird. The floating platform enables them to take the turbines to where the wind blows and birds are few, and people even fewer. His objective in commencing this project 12 years ago was to come up with a power solution for developing nations."
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Floating Wind Turbine Platform

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  • What about the cost (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Barkley44 (919010) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:31PM (#13938194) Homepage
    How much will it cost to build though? And would it have any impact on the environment under the water, when placed in lower water levels? Perhaps it's not a major concern? I could just see the great lakes covered by hundreds of these ;)
    • by Propagandhi (570791) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:43PM (#13938259) Journal
      How much will it cost to build though?

      About 540 Energy and 60 Metal IIRC. A little more if you're CORE.
    • by lheal (86013)
      How much will it cost to build though?

      Amortized over the life of a power plant, the startup cost is negligeable.

      The real gotcha will be maintenance. What happens when one of God's happy sea creatures swims afoul of the power plant, taking it offline on Super Bowl Sunday? Or more pointedly, foul weather at sea is not like foul weather on land. There's no place to get away from it, except perhaps underwater.

      I guess they'll have to have a fleet of submarines for maintenance. Maintenance is where t

    • by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:53PM (#13938319) Homepage
      I was wondering this too, so I googled "cost of off shore wind farm" and came up with Cape Wind [capewind.org]. Pretty interesting. Still haven't managed to price it out though. It only mentions that this farm is privately funded... which may just work.
      • by famebait (450028)
        Part of the point of the idea is that it will cost much less than current offshore wind parks: you don't need to build rigid bases underwater on the seabed, you just need a sturdy mooring. Everything can be built on land and tugged out. Unlike those resting on the seabed, you can cheaply place it at depths (and distances from shore) where only a oilrig-sized cashflow would justify the cost of solid pylons up from the seabed.
  • Large areas required (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cave_Monster (918103) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:32PM (#13938202)
    I'm all for alternatives for energy production but would it be logistically feasible to conduct such a venture? Wind farms on the land take up massive amounts of landspace, I just don't know how you could acceptably occupy a similar amount area on water. That is unless the technology has advanced somewhat and not as many windmills are required to produce the same amount of energy.
    • Wind farms on the land take up massive amounts of landspace, I just don't know how you could acceptably occupy a similar amount area on water.
      Surely there's much greater demand on land space than water space, especially at sea.
      These windmills should produce more energy as there should be more wind available to them without land getting in the way.
    • There is far more uninhabited water surface on this planet than habitable land surface.
    • Well, 3/4 of this planet is covered by water...
  • It Doesn't Matter (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geomon (78680)
    I know that the article summary took great pains to point out that few birds are out this far from land, but you just know that one or two will be killed by one of these turbines. It is inevitable.

    That said, no matter how much alternative energy sources are promoted by one faction of the environmental movent there will always be the fringe who hates any energy source that benefits humans. It is as if humans are not part of nature and that we are just a fucking infection that is destroying the Mother Earth (
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:50PM (#13938304) Homepage
      Yes, it's a shame that fringe reactionary groups have such a strong hold on our nation's energy policy. Why, just the other day ConocoPhilips was asking congress to allow them to use some of their tens of billions of recent windfall profits to research and provide clean, renewable energy. Wouldn't you know it, that huge Earth First! lobby managed to block any progress, just as they have for years and years!

      I remember back in the 70s when Chevron's big solar arrays in Oklahoma were being continuously sabotaged by Greenpeace activists. The National Guard couldn't even hold off those lunatics long enough for Dick Cheney to finish cleaning the baby seals!

      When will the insanity stop? When will the multinational megacorporations ever have a chance to be heard?
      • by geomon (78680) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:55PM (#13938324) Homepage Journal
        Yes, it's a shame that fringe reactionary groups have such a strong hold on our nation's energy policy.

        Yes, let's look at how many new refineries have been constructed in the US in the last 30 years. And how many nuclear plants have been constructed in the same timeframe.

        Your sarcasm doesn't measure up to reality, does it? The fact is, if the US had been continuing to build out its nuclear power capacity we may not be discussing energy strains the way we are today.

        The primary contributors to the crash of oil prices in the mid-1980's was conservation measures combined with the expansion of US nuclear energy.

        Conservation will only take you so far. After that, you have to develop new sources.
        • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @12:38AM (#13938521) Homepage
          Yes, let's look at how many new refineries have been constructed in the US in the last 30 years.

          Yeah, those pesky environmentalists in control of all the oil companies decided that it made more sense to use old, grandfathered refineries than actually make new ones that complied with modern air regulations. The fact that it chokes off supply occassionally and raises the profits is a horrible side-effect for the poor companies.

          And how many nuclear plants have been constructed in the same timeframe.

          There are certainly many people who have an irrational fear of nuclear power, but I think the nail in the coffin of that particular enterprise was that nuclear wound up being no cheaper than anything else, and every plant would have been losing money if it weren't for the huge government subsidies.

          The fact is, if the US had been continuing to build out its nuclear power capacity we may not be discussing energy strains the way we are today.

          Indeed, and had we been continuing to build out wind and solar power, we would be even better off than with nuclear! But of course nobody is protesting wind and solar power, I wonder why we haven't invested in those with half the gusto we've spent trying to find a few million nonreplaceable barrels of oil off the coast of Florida? I've never heard of anyone getting sick from living next to a windmill.

          Conservation will only take you so far. After that, you have to develop new sources.

          Indeed -- and building more oil refineries is not "new sources". Drilling in Alaska, drilling off Florida, drilling anywhere is not "new sources". Call me when ConocoPhilips builds their first tidal generator in the Gulf of Mexico, and then I'll shed a tear for the Cato institute bravely fighting the environmental lobby that has been holding us back from any "new sources" of energy. I mean, it's not like we've had over 30 years to work on this stuff.
        • I believe the scarcity of refineries and nuclear plants has more to do with rampant NIMBYism than any love of environmentalists by the United States. I don't think you'll find many liberals or conservatives who want a nuclear reactor in their backyard.

          Now the conservatives might want it in someone else's backyard, but not their own.
        • by katharsis83 (581371) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:05AM (#13939227)
          "Yes, let's look at how many new refineries have been constructed in the US in the last 30 years. And how many nuclear plants have been constructed in the same timeframe."

          Instead of blaming the relatively weak and powerless environmentalists (how many seats does the Green party have in our beloved Congress?), maybe you should consider that Texaco, Unocal, Chevron, etc, don't exactly want to see cheap and safe nuclear power crushing their sale of natural gas/coal. It's also more than likely that by keeping refining capacity at artifically low levels, that they can string along the public for a longer period of time on a dwindling supply of oil.

          "Your sarcasm doesn't measure up to reality, does it? The fact is, if the US had been continuing to build out its nuclear power capacity we may not be discussing energy strains the way we are today."

          It's far more likely that a paranoid public, feeding on information from hyped up reports from 3-Mile island, is taking a "not in my backyard" approach to this.

          Think hard.

          How much power does the environmental lobby really have in this country?
          Facts:
          1. No Kyoto Treaty
          2. Current administration/party in power refuses to recognize global warming, and went as far as to hire a guy to CENSOR reports on this topic.
          3. Scaled back clean air regulations.
          4. Not a SINGLE Green Party Senator (check out the Bundestag for comparison)
          5. Massive subsidies for an energy sector that's been posting record profits.

    • they're fundamentalists. people who believe their view is right, and anyone who would dare question it must die. funny thing, though. it doesn't really matter what their views are, the 'must die' thing is what's important and scary.
    • Maybe benefits to fish could mitigate any problems for birds for people who are overly worried about this sort of thing. If a bunch of these were in an area and the area were off-limits to boats, in particular trawlers, then perhaps the sea underneath them would act as a reserve and mitigate over-fishing? I suppose it depends if these things would be deployed in a group over a large enough area or just dotted about the place individually.
    • Why is it that every time there's an article about alternative energy sources someone comes out cursing and spewing venom against some mysterious environmental faction that is theoretically against said technology? Where does your anger come from? You are going nuts before even hearing a single environmentalist rail against this tech. Is this leftover hatred regarding the nuclear energy thing? Whether your are right or not, your attitude only reinforces the behavior of those who like to bash anything "e
  • ...which he says will enable them to have the consistency needed to be a primary grid energy provider, and not just supplemental to the gird.

    I, for one, welcome our new gird overlords.
  • by Xarius (691264) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:36PM (#13938224) Homepage
    Supplementing the gird is a commendable achievement.

    Where are we keeping the real editors?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:39PM (#13938238)
    Imagine a Beowulf cl... oh wait never mind.
  • Birds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim2005 (924108) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:43PM (#13938261)
    According to this study reported by the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4072756.stm [bbc.co.uk]) windfarms pose a low risk to birds. I believe buildings in general are far more of a threat.

    And even if windfarms did pose a danger to birds, the benefits of a clean, sustainable energy source so far outweigh the downside of a few dead pigeons here and there, that it's silly to even contemplate the matter.
    • Re:Birds (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geomon (78680) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:49PM (#13938303) Homepage Journal
      Here is a fairly comprehensive study [nationalwind.org] of hazards to avian populations from wind farms.

      The threat isn't as small as a few pigeons, but it is an area where active research in avian behavior could reduce the number of impacts.

      There isn't a single "zero impact" energy source. An environmental price for any energy source can be found if you look hard enough. The challenge is learning how to balance our need for energy with the size of the threat to the environment.
    • Besides, if that many bird are killed I guess they will just have to evolve to not be stupid enough to fly into multi-ton blades that measure 100+ feet across and spin at 100+ RPM. I mean, jesus. Talk about a class *cough*biology class*cough* not worthy.

      Heh

  • Developing Nations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:44PM (#13938268) Homepage
    His objective in commencing this project 12 years ago was to come up with a power solution for developing nations
    Jeebus, is that what the US is now? With all the bass-ackwards energy policy combined with a very aging grid control system, and nuclear paranoia (why the hell don't we reprocess [pbs.org] like France/Japan?)... perhaps we're ready for some serious diversity to increase the power stability of this country.
  • So that means... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SamAdam3d (818241) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:46PM (#13938281)
    "nearly ready to strike a deal to install"
    in technology terms, you have got nothing.

    I was ready to make a deal with a nice Nigerian fellow, but that doesn't mean a darn thing.
  • Orders of Expense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twitter (104583) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:47PM (#13938285) Homepage Journal
    Expensive: Electronic Goods.
    More Expensive: Marine Goods.
    Even More Expensive: Aero Goods.

    Aero, electronic goods exposed to a marine environment ... Could we make that Monopoly Nuclear running NT too? Now that would be expensive.

    Really, who knows, clever people can make anything work.

    • Yeah -- that's the first thing I thought when I saw those machines sitting in the salt water. The turbines, rotors and so on will get bathed in warm salty vapor all the time -- how long will those things work under that abuse? 5-10 years?

      Boats require legendary maintenance in order to survive such exposure. I can't believe those things will last. And they don't have precise moving parts, like this thing.

      If it were made of plastic/composite it might have a chance -- but Oy Weh -- so much money.
    • Even More Expensive: Aero Goods.

      You tell me! The price tag on the Nike Air was atmospheric, but something kept telling me to "just do it".
  • Yawn (Score:2, Funny)

    by Kyeetza (927172)
    "He has approached a number of power producers in the U.S., but has thus far been met with a yawn."

    He must have been talking to VP Cheney and his Haliburton buddies....

  • by ta ma de (851887) <chris.erik.barne ... LIONom minus cat> on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:49PM (#13938302)
    But shouldn't we be working to eliminate those pesky migratory birds; especially since H5N1 is milling about. Mulching birds should be listed a feature, a feature that is part of the fight to stop the bird flu. It could be a War-on-Avian flu, to be waged at sea, stopping migration before it starts. All good now.
  • by Yartrebo (690383) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:50PM (#13938305)
    The electricity->hydrogen->electricity cycle is only about 50% efficient using utility-scale 100MW plants (slightly lower for 1MW or so sized plants, and much lower for lab-sized plants). Right now there is so little wind power installed that the grid can easily handle large amounts of extra wind power. When 20% of electricity is coming from wind, then they'll start to be substantial benefits to power storage (though I see hydroelectric storage as a more practical form of storage than hydrogen, and that's good until renewables cover 100% of electricity demand and we're at the stage of needing liquid fuel for airplanes and vehicles).

    Second, I believe that using a floating platform with very tall (~400 feet or so) structures is asking for trouble. Something floating is far more vulnerable to storms than a securely grounded pile. There must be a good reason it's not being done now.

    Thirdly, why have the things so far from shore. Transmission losses (if undersea cables are employed) are large over such distances, and it does take quite a bit of aluminum to make such long wires. If a ship must come to load the hydrogen every once in a while, then you just added a large operating expense (and one of the nice things about wind and solar is very low operating expenses).

    So why not stick to tried and true near-shore and land based wind turbines?
    • So why not stick to tried and true near-shore and land based wind turbines?

      Because the rich beachfront property owners (yeah, yeah, yeah I know they are not all rich) don't want the former ruining their view of the water and the latter usually irk enough of the landlocked masses that they even have enough clout to keep them away.

      By the way, don't assume that just because something has not been done before that there must be some good reason. Sometimes the reason that an idea has not been tried before i

    • There must be a good reason it's not being done now.

      I shudder to think what the world would be like if, to pick a random example, da Vinci thought the way you do.
    • Transmission losses
      Any decent sized power generating facility will supply power to a large area, so you are always going to get line losses. The only other way is lots of little generators, but they are far less efficient.
    • The electricity->hydrogen->electricity cycle is only about 50% efficient using utility-scale 100MW plants

      True, it is not the most efficient. However it means you can get energy (cracked hydrogen) to inland facilities without building a huge power infrastructure. Trucking the fuel in is not as efficient but sometimes you accept less power later in return for some power now. Remember, "perfection is the enemy of the good."


      Second, I believe that using a floating platform with very tall (~400 feet or
    • There must be a good reason it's not being done now.

      Can you imagine what the world would be like today if every inventive mind rationalized new concepts the way you just did?

  • Are we talking about another Moller here or what? "About to strike a deal?" In other words, no deal exists yet, and this is wishful thinking.

    -jcr
  • by Tsar (536185) on Wednesday November 02, 2005 @11:58PM (#13938339) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone with knowledge of actual power generation systems looked at this article?
    • The submitter is apparently the owner of the site where the article is posted--also of other "Free Energy" and survivalist supply sites.
    • The article gives no details about a technology which seems sketchy at best and pure BS at worst. This gap is covered by the ever-popular "U.S. companies had better hurry up, the Europeans and Asians are about to pay me BIG MONEY for my wonderful ideas!" Come on.
    • The only Dr. Thomas L. Lee [healthgrades.com] I could find is an MD in Texas, and the only Stanbury Resources [1800-homes-for-sale.com] I found sells real estate in Montana.
    • In the final analysis the idea sounds like a 7th-grade science fair project. Does he really think Slashdot readers will think that venture capitalists are lining up around the block to pay for this "idea?"
    Sorry if I sound sarcastic, I must have gotten up on the non-gullible side of the bed this morning.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      While not an expert in the field, I know a guy who is, and from discussions with him, have gained some knowledge.

      Wind turbines are more a 'feelgood' measure than a power generation system. They are, primarily, made from high grade Aluminium, which requires very high amounts of electric power to produce. How much? Well, you're average generator doesn't become energy positive for about 8-10 years. ( est. lifespan 20-35 ).

      I would imagine that a floating turbine would require considerably more construction
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I work in the wind energy industry and the above comments strike me as misinformed.

        Wind turbines are not generally made from Aluminium. Towers are typically rolled steel, and blades are usually glass fibre or other composite construction. It was estimated some time ago that wind turbines became energy neutral in about four months, including manufacture, transport, construction and desposal. They are essentially extremely energy efficient generators. This is in sharp contrast to PV for example.

        Lee (and t
      • Where did you get THAT information from? Wind generators are steel (usually with fibreglass blades). The energy payback is around 6 months which is pretty damned good. Germany is already generating 12% of its power demands from your so called "feel good" measure.

        But I'm not convinced the floating platform idea will work - tall, floating structure = asking for trouble.
  • by greatgreygreengreasy (706454) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @12:04AM (#13938365)
    Floating wind turbines are fine, but only until you can get your tidal generators up, and those become obsolete after underwater nuclear is built. They are quite fragile, however, so be sure to protect them with Scooters or floating Defenders, to ward off trigger-happy Scouts... ;)
  • There's more they can do to increase to cost ratio. First, You're out in the middle of the ocean, plenty of sunlight out there, so cover the thing in Solar Cells. Secondly, you're out in the middle of the ocean, plenty of waves out there, why not pick up the wave energy. Third, you're out in the middle of the ocean, thers's a significant surface to deep ocean temperture differnential out there, pick that up with a sterling engine. And number four, if you produce the hydrogen/oxygen under water rather then o
  • by kevlar (13509) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @12:14AM (#13938424)
    This is great until the next Cat 4 Hurricane, then the whole system goes to hell. The problem with floating platforms is that if they are connected directly to the grid, then they are connected via a cable. You can't just drive something that tethered out of the way of a hurricane.

    On the other hand, if you do not have them connected directly to the grid and generating power that way, then they'd need massive batteries to store energy until they can be shipped elsewhere.

    I suppose if they are devoting all their energy towards electrolysis to make hydrogen, that that could be a solution, but I'm not entirely buying the idea.
  • So I'm reading the article thinking "what keeps the platform from floating away?" and of course I think "Duh, anchors." So then I'm thinking "if we have a giant powerplant tethered securely to teh seafloor, why not put the turbines UNDER the water and harvest energy from tidal movements rather than wind? Surely there's more to be had there.
  • that Tommy Lee is amazing

    i thought he just played drums and made, ehem, peivate videos
  • by aiken_d (127097) <brooks.tangentry@com> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @12:41AM (#13938537) Homepage

    The floating platform enables them to take the turbines to where the wind blows and birds are few, and people even fewer. His objective in commencing this project 12 years ago was to come up with a power solution for developing nations.

    If it's for developing nations, why not take it where the wind blows and the birds are many. He could provide power and an unlimited supply of pre-diced stir fry at the same time!

    Cheers
    -b

  • by Doug Dante (22218) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @12:52AM (#13938587)
    The real advantage of this system is that it's governed by the law of the sea. These vessels can fly flags of convenience and simply import Hydrogen. You want to complain that they're killing birds? Too bad They're bothering your politically-connected and oh so expensive Cape Cod view? Thanks for playing "We don't care".

    And if one of our friendly, small, and oh so bribable CAFTA partners such as Costa Rica offers the flag of convenience, guess what? That hydrogen is entering the USA duty free! Don't try to stop it, or you'll end up in a corporate friendly and politically insulated CAFTA court.

    The sad part is that just like Sea Launch, it's getting so that you have to move out of the country to avoid all of the hassles and get 'er done. Thus the biggest joke of the recent energy bill. A $500 million grant to pay for people to deal with the nuclear power bureaucrats in Washington so that we might ~think~ about making another nuclear power plant.
    (Well, perhaps second biggest after that Alaskan bridge fiasco)

    Which brings up a good idea. You might as well cut out all of this hippie wind power BS and build a nuclear power plant out at sea to generate electricity to distill water, split it, and make hydrogen. We must have a spare nuclear aircraft carrier around here somewhere. Sell it to Costa Rica and they can rent it out to "Clean Hydrogen At Sea Corp"

    Business method patent pending. Send $100,000 and you can have it.
    • The world will not get better through technology. We must seek to be better people.

      Maybe offtopic, maybe not. But, your sig got to me. What a steaming load of bullsh17!

      So, your world isn't better because of the technology of electricity powering your computer? Or the vaccines that you've taken since birth to prevent terrible, painful, and deadly diseases? What about the air conditioners that keep your house at a desireable temperature, year round? Or the lights by which you type this evening?

      Come on, man! T
      • Technology helped build the holocaust gas chambers. Technology allowed the East Germans to make automatic machine guns to fire at anyone attempting to escape to West Berlin. Technology allowed the Kamar Rouge to kill with ease and impunity.

        It's what we do with the technology that makes the world better or worse.

        Thus I could use technology to mail you a steaming pile of pooh (if I knew your snail mail address), or build a catapult to fling it at you, but I won't to that. I'll just explain that in this ins
  • Now he just needs to make them self-replicating and he can harvest them at sea using the remains of the soviet/japanese whaling fleets.

    Whew! Glad the power issue is finally fixed.
  • Weird. Just plain strange. They seem to think that the USA will react to "Europe and China want it". While it's still never been tested, could be copied if it did work.. etc. Very odd article. Surprised Slashdot posted one of such poor quality.
  • by DrJimbo (594231) * on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:19AM (#13938693)
    From a caption in TFA:
    Stanbury Resources Inc. does not mount wind turbines on the sea floor, but deploys them on floating platforms on bodies of water of any depth, from 15 meters to 15,000 feet.

    Nothing says bogus quite like changing units in mid-sentence.

  • Guys, wake up.

    This article is barely worth discussion. These are the same clowns who set off our collective bullshit alarms in a previous Slashdot article [slashdot.org]. It's a shame they ganked that domain name(opensourceenergy.org), it would have made a great name for a collaborative site for use by actually reputable people.
  • by Chuckstar (799005) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @01:47AM (#13938794)
    The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory did a feasibility study [nrel.gov] on these types of floating turbine farms and found that they could be built using existing technology and provide electricity at approximately $0.05/kWh. The turbines studied did not include the battery storage and hydrogen production described in the article above.
    • What is the value of putting the batteries and the hydrogen production facilities all on the same platform with the turbines? It is not like water is hard to come by on land. 1-5 mile transmission lines can move the power ashore very efficiently. Storing large quantities of hydrogen just makes the entire thing 10x less safe. Even with fuel cells, the conversion to hydrogen and back to electricity ruins the system efficiency. The situation with batteries isn't any better.

      Certainly, there needs to be bat
  • Pathetic human! Windmills do not work that way!

    - Morbo

  • ... won't work for inland developing nations?
  • The Great Lakes, particularly Lake Michigan, have some tremendous wind resources. Unlike the open ocean, one would not have to worry about hurricanes. Unfortunately the lakes are extremely deep in most places, making ground-mounted wind unfeasible.

    There is potential for this type of technology, whether this particular article is all hype or not.
  • by fluffy666 (582573) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:02AM (#13939425)
    The problem with making Wind energy into a baseload power source is it's intermittancy. To overcome this without using a fossil fueled backup system (which completely defeats the purpose of having wind power in the first place, you need a storage and backup system). Probably the most energy efficient backup system we can have is a reversable fuel cell system (H2Electricity), with 70% efficiency. A good wind turbine installation will generate electricity around 33% of the time. Hence the installed capacity required becomes: N = 1 + ((1-C).(1/(E.R)))/C Where N = Capacity multiplier, C= Capacity Factor, E=H2 generation energy efficiency, R=Electricity generation from hydrogen efficiency. Putting in our numbers above, we get: N= 1+(((1-0.33).(1/0.7x0.7))/0.33) =1+((1.33)/0.33) =5 This means that you need to install 5MW of wind turbines to get 1MW baseload power. So you can take wind power cost estimates, and assuming that your fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems are free, multiply the cost by 5 to get a realistic cost. The above also assumes that hydrogen storage is lossless, which is generally not the case. If, as may well be the case, hydrogen needs to be stored on a season to season basis (i.e more wind in winter), this may make the system physically impossible. Furthermore, the above uses lab fuel cell efficiencies; reducing to 'real world' 40% efficiencies means that N=13, i.e. no less than 13Mw of wind generators are required for 1MW baseload. In short, wind power shows no sign of ever being able to economically fulfill our energy requirements.
    • Only today, the Guardian published a rebuttal by Jonathan Porritt [guardian.co.uk], to objections of this kind.

      Excerpt:

      Much is made of its intermittent nature, but wind is more predictable than people assume. Advanced forecasting makes wind output from across the country much easier to anticipate. Bearing in mind the huge minute-by-minute shifts in power supply and demand, wind is just another cog in the system.

      Jenkins claims that wind will require "dedicated backup", but this is not the case - and our view is supported by

      • Firstly, it's quite possible for a high pressure system to drop wind speeds all over the UK (And bring in a very cold snap at the same time); not the best scenario for a blackout.

        Secondly, the point that I raised about baseload generation was and has not even been addressed. Wind power still gets a 'free ride' at the moment - wheras a gas powered station, for example, can be switched on to provide backup for an unplanned outage elsewhere, a wind farm cannot. So you do indeed need installed nuclear/hydro

        • To summarise: Wind power does require more backup building, unless it only makes a trivial contribution. The article you quote tries to dodge issues more than address them.

          It depends what you consider trivial. The article I quoted is talking about wind as a source of 20% of our needs. I think most of the arguments against probably break down when you're only talking about 1/5 of the total supply, but organisations such as Porritt's renewables commission find themselves having to argue hard even for that.
        • by bluGill (862)

          Who cares? Just keep a few backup gas plants around for when the wind doesn't blow.

          There is only so much gas in the world. If the gas plant has to operate 1 day per year because there isn't enough wind, than is 364 extra years of gas supplie to run that plant.

          Yes you need to maintain that gas plant even when idle, but even with that, I'd prefer to save gas where we can.

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