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Power Earth Technology

First Floating Wind Turbine Buoyed Off Norway 265

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the good-for-when-the-icecaps-melt dept.
MonkeyClicker writes to tell us that the world's first large-scale floating turbine has been installed off the coast of Norway. A combined effort between Siemens and StatoiHydro, this marks the first foray into deeper waters due to restrictions in place that require offshore turbines to be attached to the sea bed. "The turbine in Norway will be 7.4 miles offshore where the water is 721 feet deep. It will be utility-size turbine, with a hub height of about 100 feet, capable of generating 2.3 megawatts of electricity. To address the conditions of the deep sea, the turbine will have a specially designed control system that will seek to dampen the motion from waves."
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First Floating Wind Turbine Buoyed Off Norway

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  • Re:Why not (Score:5, Informative)

    by Henry V .009 (518000) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @01:56AM (#28317705) Journal
    A nuclear power plant generates about 1000 times as much power as this thing and costs only about 10 times as much (although some built in the 1970s cost only about twice as much).
  • by RsG (809189) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:05AM (#28317743)

    You do know that using wind power on the ocean goes back a ways, right? If we hadn't solved that tipping over problem some time ago, we'd never have build sailboats :-P

    All that it takes is a wide keel and some ballast. You just need to be bottom heavy enough to have a low centre of gravity, and be wide enough that if one side starts to sink, buoyancy automatically corrects by lifting that side back to the water line.

    For a non-moving station, these problems are simple, since you don't need to worry about maintaining mobility. Your buoy can be an air-filled plastic sphere with a lead weight bolted to the bottom. Easy. On a boat, you need to keep a more slender shape than a sphere in order to lower resistance, and you want your ballast to be as light as you can safely get away with to keep the keel fairly shallow (both for reducing resistance and weight, and allowing the ship to enter shallow water without grounding).

  • Re:Why not (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:06AM (#28317755) Homepage Journal

    You mean other than the fact that they're like 100x more expensive than nuclear?

    I'm an Australian.. we have one experimental nuclear reactor [ansto.gov.au], 20 MW. It uses about 30 kg of uranium a year. It's used for research.. but not into power reactors. The majority of Australians are afraid of nuclear power. If you ask people on the street why they don't want nuclear power, they'll all say the same, we don't want to have to deal with the nuclear waste. Of course, this doesn't stop us from selling shitloads of uranium. The international community has threatened to prohibit the sale of Australian uranium because we don't store the spent rods, but we do reprocess them. This has non-proliferation consequences. That threat prompted the National Repository/Store Project [ret.gov.au].. but in 2004 Scrooge McJohnny Howard killed that as he did to every other infrastructure project.

    Nuclear is the only option for affordable and ecological responsible power.

  • by reporter (666905) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:15AM (#28317791) Homepage
    According to a researcher [latimes.com] at the University of California, solar power, wind power, and nuclear power have the following costs in 2006 and 2016. The first cost is for 2006. The second cost is projected for 2016.

    1. solar power: more than 20 cents/kwh, 10 to 14 cents/kwh

    2. wind power: 5 to 7 cents/kwh, 3 to 6 cents/kwh

    3. nuclear power: more than 3 cents/kwh, more than 3 cents/kwh

    Here, "wind power" refers to wind turbines on land. A wind turbine at sea would surely cost more than a land-based one.

    In other worse, nuclear power is still the best solution until we can significantly improve the efficiency of generating solar power and wind power.

    We should also address the major reason for the growing demand for energy. That reason is overpopulation. However, no American politician has the guts to touch that topic. It is too closely tied to illegal immigration. When a faction [nytimes.com] in the Sierra Club tried to address that issue, the members of that faction were accused of being "racist".

  • Re:Why not (Score:5, Informative)

    by RsG (809189) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:24AM (#28317821)

    Minor quibble: The mining and transport of fuel for a nuclear reactor is a negligible cost. Uranium ore and fuel pellets are relatively safe items, at least as far as heavy metals go, and you don't need very much fuel for a reactor. Even processing it needn't be that costly, since you can use a heavy-water reactor with un-enriched or minimally enriched fuel. If you are using enriched fuel, it's still fairly cheap in terms of dollars spent per megawatt generated.

    Reprocessing the waste does have a cost associated with it, and storing or disposing of the waste you can't or won't reprocess even more so, so that part of your post was correct. And of course the operational costs of a nuclear reactor are pretty high. But then, we don't know the operational costs of these new turbines yet (which is going to be higher than it ought to be, given it's a prototype).

  • Re:Why not (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:05AM (#28317945)
    Americans are fucking stupid. They just have lots of money to throw at people. Their government dogs will throw money at your government to prevent alternative energy while the majority of Americans will be sucking the Arabs' dicks for petrol this coming summer. I predict that their gas prices will rise to 6 dollars a gallon. Sit back and laugh.
  • by carlzum (832868) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:11AM (#28317967)
    I missed the word "wind" in the summary and thought they had developed a current turbine [anl.gov]. Ocean currents have incredible potential, but maintenance challenges make underwater turbines impractical today. But unlike wind and solar power, ocean currents and waves could actually displace fossil fuel as a primary source of energy.
  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Informative)

    by catmistake (814204) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:26AM (#28318039) Journal

    Nuclear power is the only option for affordable and ecologically responsible power

    The only reason nuclear power is cheap is the bajillions the governments poured into researching the best way to make fuel for bombs. If a tenth of that had been spent researching solar power, then solar power would be cheap.

    Nuclear waste, btw, really isn't all that eco-friendly. The waste is only one problem, and today this particular problem is not solved, but the solution has been postponed. Maybe someday we will be able to safely turn nuclear waste into car tires or something. Or maybe we'll never come up with a better idea than burying it. No one can say. But we are guarunteed that the cost of wind power plants and solar plants will get cheaper. Its an economic fact. But only if we embrace and develop and use the technology. This is how nuclear power got cheap (ignoring the expensive educations needed for nuclear engineers... those costs only go up over time).

    No, the only ecologically responsible choice is just about anything but nuclear. And "affordable" is always a relative term. What made nuclear power affordable can be applied to any new energy technology. Take your pick, and pour equal resources into developing it and costs will look better for most of the alternatives because they're all much simpler, easier to understand, and will be to build and maintain.

  • Re:navigation maps (Score:5, Informative)

    by Plunky (929104) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:30AM (#28318055)

    I hope they will put it on new navigation maps. But how to update existing maps?

    This problem was solved a long time ago, chart updates are made available regularly and large vessels will be obliged to subscribe to the service. In these modern times of electronic charts (most ships use them though they are still required to carry paper charts) updates are easily applied.

    Also ships have RADAR so they can see obstructions (other vessels are not marked on charts) plus another more modern invention called AIS [wikipedia.org] which allows vessels to broadcast their position, heading, course and speed and have it overlayed onto the radar plot (and the charts). You can be sure that massive floating platforms will have lights, radar reflectors and an AIS transmitter.

  • Re:Why not (Score:5, Informative)

    by jabithew (1340853) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:55AM (#28318157)

    For a course on nuclear power, we had to analyse the lifecycle cost of a nuclear plant. The operating costs are about half of the capital costs. Decommissioning was taken as a capital cost in this context, which it at least behaves a lot like. The decommissioning has a low cost in the context raising capital for the project because it happens 30 years or so after the initial investment, so it is heavily discounted, leaving a very small contribution.

    Let me see if I can dig out the spreadsheet for this...here we go. The capital costs came to 67% of the electricity generation cost (p/kWh) and the rest was taken up with operation and maintenance, including fuel purchase and waste disposal. The cost we calculated was 2.62p/kWh total, excluding the profit (cost of capital). If you ignore the initial capital investment then the cost is only about 0.8p/kWh.

  • by feepness (543479) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:34AM (#28318477) Homepage

    I can't think of a single way for a government to punish having kids that wouldn't be borderline totalitarian. Forget "racist" - "tyrannical" springs to mind. Better to let cultural assimilation do what it has always done, and assume they'll be at the average birthrate in a generation or so.

    What you're missing is that we currently pay people to have children. In our modern society, removing a benefit is considered punishment.

    Since immigrants tend to have more children... well, you can do the math.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:04AM (#28318991)

    This is going to sound cruel.

    Letting poor people into your rich country is like ordering more poor people to be made.

    Mothers who think that their children will get into a rich country, and send checks back home, will have more children than mothers who know that their children will have to make it in their poor domestic economy.

  • by Joren (312641) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:16AM (#28319035) Homepage

    We should also address the major reason for the growing demand for energy. That reason is overpopulation. However, no American politician has the guts to touch that topic. It is too closely tied to illegal immigration.

    Overpopulation in North-East US, Western Europe and Japan is not due to immigration. Most of the people living there are breed and born there. The major reason for growing demand for energy is not overpopulation - it is technological development. In the West as well as in the developing world.

    You are aware that Japan's population is declining at a rather alarming rate, right?

  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Informative)

    by Retric (704075) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:52AM (#28319179)

    10 years after a dam breaking you can use the land, 10 years after Chernobyl they where still guarding the wasteland. The real cost of CHernobyl was not the 56 direct deaths but the ~4,000 additional cancer deaths. The loss of a city and the 19 mi exclusion zone around the site (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_of_alienation). Plus the constant low enforcement issue.

    PS: The overall cost of the disaster is estimated at US$200 billion, taking inflation into account. This places the Chernobyl disaster as the most costly disaster in modern history.[5] There are a tiny number of dam's worldwide that could damage on that magnitude. However, most of those saves lives due to a reduction in annual flooding and a steady water source so they would exist even if they did not provide energy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @12:16PM (#28320417)
    We do not hunt threatened species of whale, the Minke whale Norway hunts is plentiful and currently has the conservation status of "Least Concern"

    .

    There are over a hundred thousand Minke whales just in the seas surrounding Norway, and we hunt less than a thousand a year. We conduct proper government controlled supervision of the hunt, and the product is used domestically.

    It is a centuries old tradition and our sovereign national right to sustainably harvest our sea resources.

    .

    Ironically most people think hunting whales is illegal under the IWC moratorium, however Norway lodged formal objections, since the moratorium was not based on advice from the Scientific Committee, and we are thus legally exempt from the ban

    .

    Polar Bears are in fact a species Norway, the US and Canada are cooperating to defend and protect in our Arctic regions. Read more about the intitative here [norway.com].

  • Anchored (Score:3, Informative)

    by andersh (229403) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @12:31PM (#28320529)
    According to StatoilHydro "the floating structure consists of a steel jacket filled with ballast. This floating element will extend 100 metres beneath the surface and will be fastened to the seabed by three anchor piles".
    There are plenty of details and videos about the project on their website:
    http://www.statoilhydro.com/en/TechnologyInnovation/NewEnergy/RenewablePowerProduction/Onshore/Pages/Karmoy.aspx [statoilhydro.com]
  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Informative)

    by ericferris (1087061) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:54PM (#28322345) Homepage

    Actually, you don't have to "guard he waste". The MOX process [world-nuclear.org] "burns" (transmutes, actually) more plutonium than is generated. It's used in Europe and it allows France to reduce its plutonium stockpile. The remaining mass is about 600 liters (two barrels) of medium radioactivity waste per reactor per year, which can be stored in a warehouse until their decay sufficiently. Google "nuclear fuel reprocessing mox" for much more details.

    I am against the idea of burying waste (especially the nuclear kind) becausereprocessing technology will improve and we'll find ways to neutralize today's unprocessable waste.

    The nuclear waste problem is a political one, not a technical one. Get the stupid politics out of the way. Solutions already exist.

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