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UK Wants Huge Expansion In Offshore Wind Power 264

OriginalArlen writes "The UK government has announced an ambitious plan to expand the existing offshore wind turbine farms, which are already extensive, to an estimated 7,000 units — two per mile of coastline — enough to generate 20% of the UK's power needs by 2020. The newly green-friendly Conservative opposition party is also backing the scheme. Wonder what they'll make of it in Oregon..."
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UK Wants Huge Expansion In Offshore Wind Power

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  • Kennedy Comment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PHAEDRU5 ( 213667 ) <instascreed@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:11AM (#21652173) Homepage
    Good thing for the UK Teddy Kennedy doesn't own coastal property there. They'd be screwed.
  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:19AM (#21652235)
    The goal is to please environmentalists. And environmentalists hate nukes with a passion which makes an uncontrolled fission reaction look like a popcorn kettle.
  • Re:Oh great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kaos07 ( 1113443 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:24AM (#21652257)

    You DO realise English comes from England right?

    So technically, you're the one saying it wrong.

  • by AcidPenguin9873 ( 911493 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:26AM (#21652275)

    (*) It will be fought by entrenched fishing interests

    (FWIW it is my firm belief that this phrase should become the next Slashdot meme.)

  • For it to affect global weather or atmospheric patterns it wouldn't matter whether the electricty produced was a large fraction of the energy consumed by humans, what would matter is whether it's a significant amount of the total energy in the atmospheric system. That's a far larger quantity than what humans actually use. I strongly suspect that you could run our entire civilization on atmospheric energy and not even be in the same order of magnitude as the total wind energy in the atmosphere at any particular time.

    Things like this are worth worrying about if there's some rational reason to, backed up by data; to bring it up now, when there are really only a handful of wind turbines worldwide and far, far worse alternatives if we simply do nothing and continue to burn fossil fuels, seems like it could easily lead to mindless scaremongering. All it takes is for one "scientist" to mention something like this in public and some right-wing nutbag will be talking about how the commie-pinko-homosexual wind turbines are STEALING YOUR WIND and KILLING YOUR CHILDREN. And then they'll go and cash a nice big check from the coal lobby.
  • by Dr. Cody ( 554864 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:38AM (#21652331)
    When you're next door to Italy, of course you're going to be a net exporter! Who are they going to rely on to generate their power? Themselves

    In case you're not familiar with power sources, for baseload power, you're generally going to be using hydro, nuclear, or coal. They're sources whose fuel is cheap and whose plants lend themselves to larger outputs. To cover infrequent peaks of demand, one frequently maintains reserve capacity in the form of gas turbines or, less common and more expensively, oil or gas-fired power plants. Reserve capacity has a low purchase price (or is leftover from decades with more favorable fuel prices, in the case of oil and gas-fired plants) and a high operating cost

    Italy--in goddamn 2007--maintains oil-fired baseload capacity. That's right, the stuff an American power company won't touch unless a market's gas lines happened to be cut on the same day their whirly gigs won't start up. Just like the rest of the West did up until the first Oil Crisis in the 1970's.

    So, while France's impressive system for licensing and standardizing plants, along with their active R&D in the industry, might be laudable, that surplus is there to profit from flaws in their neighbors' own energy policies.
  • by OriginalArlen ( 726444 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @02:42AM (#21652357)
    No, it won't. The North Sea is pretty much fished out, and a combination of "no fish" and draconian quota restrictions brought in to try to help the remainder to recover has lead to there being very few commercial fishing fleet left in the UK. The remaining couple of dozen of inshore trawlers don't exactly have the government in their back pockets.
  • by polar red ( 215081 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:25AM (#21652563)
    We removed enough trees to make up for our puny amount of windmills.(I would even guess that the forest-clearing done in 1 day would make up for it)
  • Re:lame modding (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZombieRoboNinja ( 905329 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:40AM (#21652633)
    And those who understand Logic understand that we've been putting up really big buildings that absorb a lot more wind energy than a windmill for millenia now and we have yet to make all the Earth's atmosphere shoot out into space.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:29AM (#21652839) Journal
    This concept of "Base Load" gets bantied about, in (often) confusing and erroneous ways.

    An electrical energy system has two values that are critical in preserving the integrity of the system.

    1) "Base load" - the minimum amount of load the system can expect at any time. In short, there's *always* going to be this much or more energy produced at any given time. If you overproduce Base load you have rising voltages in the system and potentially cause problems. Though, this is rarely a problem - if there was too much capacity at any time, they could offset the phase of a generator or two, causing one system to effectively cancel out the other, reducing system voltage.

    2) "Max load" - the maximum amount of load the system could generate at any time. If your usage exceeds max load, you have rolling brownouts or even blackouts.

    Usually, the "Base load" is handled by slower-moving-but cheap power plants. A coal-fired plant can take an hour or more to change its output significantly, but it can produce electricity 24x7 at the cheapest possible cost. Thus it's a good candidate for "Base Load". But whatever solution is applied to base load, it must be very, very dependable.

    However, the difference between Base load and Max load can be quite variable, changing significantly in mere minutes. This "Variable load" must be met in order to prevent voltage spikes and/or brownouts, and to handle this, you need power plants that can vary their output quickly, and on demand.

    Notice that neither Wind or Solar energy can actually act as either Base or Variable loads. Yes, they add energy to the sytem, but they can't be considered "Base load" since their output varies. And they can't really be considered "Variable load" because their output varies with their wind-energy input, NOT because their output varies upon demand.

    Thus, Wind/Solar can't really be used as EITHER base or "Variable" load. ALL of the output of either Solar or Wind energy must be matched by other variable load sources, so that when the wind isn't blowing and/or the sun not shining, the system as a whole can preserve its integrity. And this is the part that nobody discusses.

    YES, you can get energy from the wind, or from solar panels. But it isn't reliable, so can't be used for "Base load", but it also isn't available "on demand" so it isn't useful for "Variable load".

    Which brings me to my point: what if they used the wind energy to compress air that's otherwise stored on the ocean floor? All that nice, heavy water would avoid the need for high-pressure tanks, simply pushing the water out of the way would provide significant amounts of energy. And it would be useful for either base or variable loads, since the compressed air could be used to power generators on demand. Oh, and piping compressed air is a fairly lossless ordeal.

    Why not?

    Why not?
  • stop this nonsense (Score:2, Insightful)

    by e70838 ( 976799 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:45AM (#21652919)
    All this is crap: wind turbines cost a lot to produce, need a lot of copper which production is very poluting and the amount of energy produced is always bellow estimations. The only purpose of wind turbine farms is to get subventions and fiscal advantages, there is no ecological justification and once this will become obvious to everybody, the subventions and fiscal advantages will disapear and we will stop this nonsense.
  • Re:lame modding (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @05:54AM (#21653233)
    Those who understand Physics or Chemistry understand that energy is never created in a system, it can only be transferred to it.

    Indeed. Good job we orbit a giant nuclear reactor that is constantly putting energy into our non-closed system here on Earth.
  • Re:Good news! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:01AM (#21653261)
    let's not put all our eggs in the same basket

    You must be new here

  • by supersnail ( 106701 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @06:23AM (#21653321)
    I think this is actually a ploy to gain support for some new nukes.
    The number of turbines proposed averages out at one turbine for every two miles of coastline (according to the BBC news).

    Once middle England realises thier favorate beach/bird sanctuary/sea view is going to host a dozen turbines the "Not In My Back Yard" syndrome will kick in fast, then the UK government will say "Oh then we will have to build some nukes, heres a plan I made earlier".

    Most UK politicians are PR persons, lawyers or phone cleaners. You need to take into account how spineless conniving and selfserving these slimeballs are before you can interpret what they say.
  • by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:27AM (#21653687) Homepage
    Basically it's because the Labour government has been traditionally opposed to Nuclear power and whilst they do seem be coming around the realisation that it's actually the only option they also seem to be terrified of actually doing anything about it. Hence these stupid suggestions to build more windfarms.

    This is a pity because most of the current nuclear power plants will be decomissioned in the next 10 years along with quite a few of the coal fired ones leaving us with a large gap between the amount of energy we'll need and the amount we can produce. The end of North Sea gas only adds to this problem, with 80 or 90% of the population reliant on gas for cooking and heating at the moment we'll have to either bite the bullet and become dependant on Russias natural gas or switch to electric - further increasing the energy deficit.
  • by segedunum ( 883035 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @07:54AM (#21653811)
    Yer. Close down the coal mines and flood them so that all your natural resources are tied up (thanks Thatcher), and start burning gas at an insatiable and unsustainable rate in power stations which uses up your own supplies and makes you totally dependant on other countries! Brilliant idea.

    Makes you proud to be British!
  • Re:Oh great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Malc ( 1751 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @08:46AM (#21654171)
    English is a mongrel language. Something like 1200 of the most common words are derived from German. These tend to be the shorter, simpler words too. Presumably by the Angles and Saxons. Longer words tend to be derived from French, and less common as they were only used by the ruling classes after the Norman invasion. There are words of direct Latin origin too, etc. English has continued to absorb words from all over the world due imperialism and multiculturalism. It's a functional language. It seems to me though that all languages have roots elsewhere, but English as we know was spread around the world by the British. American English is now spreading around the world in much the same way the British did it before: trade, backed by military force.
  • by aproposofwhat ( 1019098 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @09:28AM (#21654489)
    What unreasonable demands?

    That British Coal stopped its plans to eviscerate the mining industry?

    That people doing a difficult and dangerous job should be paid accordingly?

    The miner's strike was the culmination of a planned attack by Thatcher on the British people, fed by her determination to squander the North Sea oil and gas dividend as quickly as possible in order to enrich Denis's friends in the oil industry.

    Coupled with the disastrous notion of privatisation and the destruction of most of our manufacturing base, it has ensured that Britain will never again be truly great.

    Personally, I have a nice bottle of champers laid down to celebrate when the old witch dies.

  • by Goth Biker Babe ( 311502 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @10:47AM (#21655307) Homepage Journal
    You're obviously far to young to remember the time before her. Wilson and Callahan almost let the country go bankrupt. Every nationalised industry was being subsidised to great extent. The national debt was horrendous. No one worked. There was garbage on the streets, power strikes, three days weeks and rotten cars. Something had to be done. Alas Maggie got too big for her boots and went slightly nuts (just like Blair did) and I feel that all PMs should have a maximum of two terms. I'm not Tory, I'm Lib Dem, but on the whole the country was cancerous and needed curing and sometimes cures themselves cause damage.
  • by sticky_charris ( 1086041 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @11:27AM (#21655833)
    You only need the occasional look at European weather charts to see that Britain gets a great deal of wind. We seem to consistently have around twice the amount of wind of most other countries. Therefore I think it is a great idea to tap into this natural resource and stop depending on countries with dictators and poor human rights for our energy needs.
  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @12:02PM (#21656439) Homepage Journal
    No, Italy is Italy and France is France. This isn't some intricate mythical story created to help you better understand America. These are real places out in the real world. Really! Apologies for my crankiness but wtf dude.

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