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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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  • Future Bond location (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @01:50AM (#28317691)

    Well obviously there's potential there or they wouldn't have gone as far as they have, but I just don't understand how it doesn't tip over instead of spinning, or how they keep it pointed in the right direction. I'd love to see it in person. And I bet they use them in a future Bond film.

  • Am I off base (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dasher42 (514179) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:02AM (#28317733)

    For suggesting that a measure of tidal power could be harvested as well here? After all, kites can be used to harvest power through the tension exerted on their cables, if I'm correct. Similarly, these turbines are going to be tethered, right? How about it?

  • navigation maps (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Max_W (812974) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:37AM (#28317851)
    I hope they will put it on new navigation maps. But how to update existing maps?

    I would be a nightmare for a captain to meet such things in high seas. As far as navigation is concerned it is a new island.
  • Re:Why not (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:52AM (#28317895)

    We probably should do exactly that. When the wind is blowing, we can offset combined cycle natural gas powerplants (which ramp up or down easily). To offset coal (by far the majority of US electricity comes from coal -- it's plentiful, cheap, and the utilities don't pay directly for the environmental consequences of burning it by the trainload), you need BASELOAD generating capacity.

    Baseload is the "always on" demand for energy, 24/7. Coal and nuclear are ideally suited to meet this demand: large powerplants that operate most efficiently running at 100% capacity all the time. Solar and wind are great. We should be roofing houses with photovoltaics, building solar thermal plants in the deserts, and sticking windmills in the ground everywhere it's appropriate. But intermittent power sources like renewables can't supply the baseload demand... barring some astonishingly unlikely advances in battery technology or super-conducting electrical cables, or other technological breakthroughs that might as well be labeled "magic" or "Star Trek."

    Yeah, nuclear has some issues, but they're largely political (i.e. Yucca Mountain phail) and not technical. The WHOLE WORLD'S nuclear waste could be stored outside of Carlsbad, NM at the Waste Internment Pilot Project (WIPP). I've toured the place. It's amazingly robust, and a cunning mixture of low-tech (salt mining is EASY fer chrissakes!) and high-tech (radiation monitoring that regularly detects the fallout from dust storms in the Gobi Desert, but no emissions from WIPP). Frankly, I was impressed.

    So, yeah. Energy. You want to limit greenhouse gas emissions? Replace natural gas with renewables wherever possible. Replace coal with nuclear everywhere. Close the nuclear fuel cycle, and push for energy efficiency standards that matter. Transportation energy requirements? That's where things get a little bit tougher...

  • by RsG (809189) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:54AM (#28317901)

    In the very long-term (barring global catastrophes) humanity will have to start to settle the oceans, and this experiment will give us information as to how we might be able to do that in the far future.

    Why?

    Habitable space won't be the reason. To settle the ocean would require a fully artificial environment - one where we build every square meter we live in from the ground (or sea) up. If we're going to do that, we might as well build arcologies, and save ourselves the trouble of plugging leaks. Plus, the population growth rate is levelling off, lessening pressure to find new places to inhabit.

    Because it's there? Space would be a better choice. Absence of pressure is easier to live with than overabundance of it. Solar energy is plentiful in the inner system. And an offworld colony has the virtue of surviving global catastrophes that would wipe out land and sea based habitats. Added bonus - no local ecology to damage, something the ocean most definitely has. We can colonize both of course, but I'm not sure I'd say we "have to".

    Apart from all that, I'd say we already "colonized" the ocean, ages ago when we started building long-haul ships. We just don't live there all the time, or without land-based support. I doubt that will change.

  • by catmistake (814204) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:35AM (#28318071) Journal
    What is exactly the cost of a Chernobyl scale accident? Unless the possibility of such an event is reduced to zero, we should really define this figure, and be prepared to spend it if the need arises.
  • Re:Why not (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RsG (809189) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:41AM (#28318101)

    Nuclear power is complex. Maintaining a reaction takes experts with decades of education and years of training. Calculate the cost of education into the cost of nuclear power? You should.

    Unless "decades of education" was meant to include their high school diploma, I think you're exaggerating. Not that I disagree with your fundamental point; a nuclear plant does pay good money for qualified staff, and that does include paying for some of their training.

    You're correct that the level of expertise needed is particular to nuclear power, but it is part of a larger cost associate with staff. No means of power generation is fully automated. Even a system like the one in TFA presumably pays somebody's wages.

    Compare "the worst that can happen" in nuclear power to the same with solar, wind, geothermal, or hydroelectric power. This alone should be enough to deter us from nuclear power, because no matter what, mistakes are always made and the unexpected occurs.

    "Worst that could happen" for a hydro dam is a major flood. I'd call that unlikely, assuming the engineers and construction team did their jobs right. But then, I'd say the same about nuclear.

    I'd agree that nuclear is dangerous, but disagree that the danger should deter us from using it at all. Like all technology that can go awry, caution must be used, safeguards put in place.

    I'd suggest reading up on passive safety mechanisms in nuclear power. Look up "pebble bed reactors", which have the means to make the fuel fly apart if it gets too hot, halting the chain reaction. There is never a total absence of risk, but the risk can be made small enough for our purposes. The question is not: is it perfect? - the question is: is it worth it?

    If the choice came down to a mix of passive power collection, coupled with either nuclear or coal, which would you pick? Assuming we could not meet all our energy needs with alternative energy alone and we needed one or the other.

    Currently, the only method of cleaning a nuclear accident is to package and store all the radiated stuff underground. Did you see the article recently about the irradiated mud wasps? That is seriously messed up.

    Didn't see the article. Got a link?

    I am very much aware of the risks associated with radioactive contamination. I am also aware that it isn't the end of the world. There are living things in closer proximity to Chernobyl than we though possible; the assumption 20 years ago was that the reactor site and all around it would be sterile for centuries. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were both rebuilt and are home to people today, a bare sixty years after being nuked (and it's not like they were rebuilt yesterday either). Yes radiation is scary. No it is not reason enough to convince me that we must abandon nuclear power.

    Before sending astronauts into space, every conceivable scenario is considered and plans are made for the just in case. Nuclear proponents never seem to want to finish solving the problems before plunging headlong into them.

    On this... I actually agree with you. If new reactors are going to be built, they need to be designed with the utmost care, even if that means raising the cost considerably.

    What you may not realize is that even the older, less safe, water moderated reactors currently in use have an excellent safety record. The major accidents - Chernobyl and Windscale - used designs known at the time to be less than safe. The sole accident I can think of for a light water moderated design was Three Mile Island, where the safety systems actually worked. Nobody died, no contamination was released - the worst problem was actually the hysteria associated with the words "nuclear" and "accident" in the same headline.

    Nuclear power isn't perfect. It does have serious problems. These problems need to be definatively solved before the concept as a whole is a valid solu

  • by chefren (17219) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:49AM (#28318133)
    Still another point to make is the efficiency of distribution. Not many of those watts produced at the power plants actually make it to your wall outlet.
  • by RsG (809189) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:52AM (#28318153)

    The problem is that if you use fiscal measures to "encourage" having fewer children you are, by definition "punishing" those who have more. At the very least you are questioning the wisdom of having so many children.

    You misunderstand. The reduction in birthrate I speak of has nothing whatsoever to do with punishment. No program is in place to ensure people like myself do not have many kids, and yet I can't think of a single person I've known within ten years of my age with more than 3. 1 or none is more often the case.

    The cause isn't government programs, or social stigma, or any such bullshit, it's a reflection of reality. If you live in a developed country, you have an incentive (several actually), not to have as many kids. That's true whether you've just moved there from some other part of the world, or whether you've always lived there.

    It takes time for culture to catch up to the reality. It always works that way, no matter what the reality and culture clashing with it are. But when it does, an immigrant or their offspring will cease to have as many children. This has happened before and will happen again, no matter how loudly both the immigrant groups and their opponents claim otherwise.

    Immigrants typically have more children. Since questioning anything that is typical of immigrants is racist, much less actually punishing, this topic is verboten.

    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.

  • by Plunky (929104) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:52AM (#28318555)

    And how exactly have I got buoyancy wrong? If you're listing sideways buoyancy is (part of) what rights you. The dipping side is tries to rise up, while the rising side tries to fall down, both because they've changed in depth from where they ought to be. This is an oversimplification, but not an inaccurate one.

    A wide hull would only hinder your stability, until the width is a significant multiple of the wavelength (which btw can be hundreds of metres). What you need for stability is a narrow tower structure that extends deep into the sea so that the surface waves don't have any appreciable affect on it. The surface of the sea is chaos and a structure like this needs to endure it rather than adapt to it. See Spar Platforms [globalsecurity.org] for example.

  • by LunarEffect (1309467) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @06:39AM (#28318693)
    to harvest the wave energy as well as the wind energy with something similar to this? I guess you could also slap some solar cells on it. =)
  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cheesybagel (670288) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:41AM (#28319129)
    Here [scribd.com] in page 15. You can see the amount of land area solar power would require for generating our requirements for the next couple of decades. Only problem is, it is still too expensive to build it.
  • by maxume (22995) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:53AM (#28319845)

    I watched part of a show, I think called "Mega-engineering" or something similar that had computer generated footage of a floating New Orleans (so someone considers it a serious enough thing to spend at least a few tens of thousands of dollars on it).

    There is also that cruise ship, I think called "The World" or something. Yep, ResidenSea:

    http://www.residensea.com/index.html [residensea.com]

    Nowhere near a colony, but not quite a cruise ship either.

  • Re:Why not (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Henry V .009 (518000) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @12:55PM (#28320707) Journal
    To be fair, that's a 4-unit plant. So a lot more power than 1 GW. And, as I pointed out, we've already proven that they can be built for a much more reasonable price.

You can bring any calculator you like to the midterm, as long as it doesn't dim the lights when you turn it on. -- Hepler, Systems Design 182

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