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Power Earth United States Technology

US To Fire Up Big Offshore Wind Energy Projects 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the any-way-the-wind-blows dept.
coondoggie writes "The US government today took a bold step toward perhaps finally getting some offshore wind energy development going with $50 million in investment money and the promise of renewed effort to develop the energy source. The plan focuses on overcoming three key challenges (PDF) that have made offshore wind energy practically non-existent in the US: the relatively high cost of offshore wind energy; technical challenges surrounding installation, operations, and grid interconnection; and the lack of site data and experience with project permitting processes."
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US To Fire Up Big Offshore Wind Energy Projects

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  • Only three problems? (Score:4, Informative)

    by 14erCleaner (745600) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Monday February 07, 2011 @09:27PM (#35132924) Homepage Journal
    What about local opposition? [wikipedia.org] The Martha's Vineyard wind farm faced a regular nor'easter of NIMBYism.
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Monday February 07, 2011 @10:22PM (#35133386) Homepage

    1) windmills don't explode. Certainly not in a fashion that cause people's shadows to be burned into concrete like the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

    Nuclear reactors don't explode, unless they're made of graphite and mismanaged to the point where hydrogen gas builds up and goes poof. They've never caused people's shadows to be burned into concrete, and never will; you can't make 'em go supercritical.

    2) and 3): I do agree with you there, but windmills are a really expensive way to generate power, and those generators are difficult enough to keep operating without exposing them to salt water spray.

    Why not stick a nuclear reactor out there instead of a windmill? It wouldn't be visible from shore, wouldn't even need a cooling tower since you could use the sea water as a heat sink, and would be far enough out to reduce any chance of radiation leakage hitting the short to a minimum.

  • by xmark (177899) on Monday February 07, 2011 @10:44PM (#35133532)

    They're called pebble bed reactors. These are what we should be building. They are self-moderating without active control systems.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor [wikipedia.org]

    That said, it should still be noted that even conventional water-cooled reactors don't explode in a fashion that cause people's shadows to be burned into concrete like the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Spreading that kind of image is irresponsible. Nuclear power has legitimate risks, and those are what should be discussed.

    Meanwhile, individual windmills may or may not be aesthetic, according to one's sensibilities, but it's a hard argument that gigantic collections of them don't visually and sonically degrade open spaces and natural surroundings. Individual snowmobiles or speedboats may be graceful and beautiful, but put a few hundred of them together in a formerly serene place and their grace and beauty evaporate.

    Windmills additionally kill lots of birds, including raptors and threatened species, and they do that continuously. They also have high rates of mechanical failure, and require expensive on-site maintenance. Worst of all, because of the uneven nature of their generation, they cannot replace baseline power stations, which limits them to marginal contributions above the peak demand curve. As more wind power comes on line, utilities are constructing natural gas plants to provide backup peak reserve, lest wind not be available at the moment needed. In other words, not only is wind power expensive on its own, but it often requires additional expenditure for backup generation.

    I don't see how one must be rich and powerful to dislike the impact of large scale wind power. There are uses and places for it, but its shortcomings are hard to dismiss when considering large-scale application. What I see are decisions and allocations being made on the basis of political, rather than engineering, analyses. That kind of thinking often leads to trouble.

  • Re:So reliable (Score:4, Informative)

    by bunratty (545641) on Monday February 07, 2011 @11:32PM (#35133858)
    That's why we're developing grid energy storage [wikipedia.org].
  • by afidel (530433) on Monday February 07, 2011 @11:39PM (#35133898)
    The best spots for sustained winds are offshore (including in the great lakes), this is how you get better than 60% utilization, by putting them where the wind is consistent.

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

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