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Power Earth Technology

First Floating Wind Turbine Buoyed Off Norway 265

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, Insightful)

    by RsG ( 809189 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @01:56AM (#28317709)

    Well, too many could be a hazard to navigation, plus there's the whole cost-benefit business, and the high maintenance costs associated with anything left in saltwater. But I'm inclined to think such an energy solution is probably worth using where available - it certainly offers an answer to the question of where we're going to fit enough windmills to be useful. This is a problem that all forms of passive energy collection suffer from to some degree.

    That being said, I could put your question back at you. Can you give me a credible reason not to build nuclear power plants? And don't just trot out Chernobyl or waste issues without elaborating - show some depth in your reasoning.

  • Re:What a waste. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RsG ( 809189 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:10AM (#28317775)

    You do know it's a prototype, right? The first design to float freely (as opposed to earlier designs that were anchored)?

    The first version always costs more. Later versions are built at a fraction the price. Such is the nature of R&D.

    So, patience. Expect a solution immediately, cheaply and bug-free, and you will be endlessly disappointed with what real life has to offer. But hey, it'll open up a career in management for you :-P

  • Re:Why not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oneirophrenos ( 1500619 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:14AM (#28317785)
    It's the first of its kind, if we are to believe the headline. I'd expect the efficiency/cost ratio to increase with further R&D. Also, a wind turbine doesn't require the mining and transport of radioactive isotopes, nor does it require the disposal of radioactive waste. If we are to look for a "clean" source of energy, wind power is one of the first alternatives that spring to mind.
  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sundo ( 1050980 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:36AM (#28317847)

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

    Building a single windmill prototype like that and sticking it alone in the ocean (with a 10 kilometer power cable) is bound to be lot more expensive per MW than building a whole farm of them. The original article also does not specify how much of that money went into development and how much went to actually building the turbine. The cost should come down quite significantly if that thing actually works as advertized and they start building them by dozens.

    Your claim that nuclear is the only option for affordable and ecological power is either pure trolling or rather incredible stupidity and ignorance. I agree that it's propably the best current short term option, but it definitely isn't the only or best one in long term.

  • Re:Why not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:39AM (#28317861)

    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.

    Okay, now I'm curious. What non-proliferation consequences are there to this policy?

    At a guess: someone other than the Australian government looking after the spent fuel (and it's load of weaponizable plutonium). Nobody in the West is too concerned about the Aussies embarking on a secret program to develop nuclear weapons. The same can not be said for every nation that is buying low-enriched uranium fuel for its power reactors.

  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @02:41AM (#28317865)

    I fail to see what immigration has to do with overpopulation. Or rather, I do see, but what I see is only shortsightedness.

    A person moving from place A to place B does not increase the net population of AB, but does make their negative impact on the environment B's problem. So the attitude of "if we curb immigration, we reduce pollution" omits the reality that pollution does not obey national borders. It's the attitude of "somebody else's problem", which I could frankly do without.

    Of course, you could argue that immigrants moving from a poor country to a rich one will use more resources once there. That is technically correct. But the counterpoint is that richer populations have fewer children, and in the long run that immigrant is going to assimilate. If not them, then their children. And part of that assimilation is the reduction in birthrate that comes from living in the developed world.

  • Re:Why not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:05AM (#28317949) Journal
    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.
    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. 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.
    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.
    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 solution to the energy crisis we face. Cheap power now is NOT worth the deadly problems it WILL bring. Solve the waste problem, solve the security problems, solve the what-if problems, THEN build your nuke plants. In the meantime, we can schlep our way through the problems of other truely clean energy alternatives and not sweat so much when tge mistakes are made. So power is a little more expensive, but the risk of a wind turbine taking out an entire region for generations is non-existant.
  • by feepness ( 543479 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:13AM (#28317969) Homepage
    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.

    Immigrants typically have more children. Since questioning anything that is typical of immigrants is racist, much less actually punishing, this topic is verboten.
  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phurge ( 1112105 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:16AM (#28317989)

    Because we don't yet fully understand our atmosphere. How will this impact air currents? Will that alter climates? We don't know.

    I daresay that you would have to put up a ridiculous number of turbines before they have any effect. I mean, the world seems to have done ok with those other large scale wind blockers commonly known as office buildings....

  • Re:Am I off base (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Plunky ( 929104 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:18AM (#28317999)

    This particular turbine isn't tethered. That's what makes it special - the earlier models work the way you describe.

    In fact it is not fixed to the seabed, it definitely is tethered otherwise it would float away. Also, wireless power transmission has not been developed yet (on this scale).

  • Re:navigation maps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Max_W ( 812974 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:31AM (#28318057)
    A radar is a good thing. But practice,teacher of fools, shows that even satellites in orbit do collide.

    In the navigation school, where I studied, we were taught that a radar and GPS are very good things, but they tend to get unserviceable at the times when you need them most. Sometimes just because a battery is low.

    Yes, there are ships, which do not have a motor running all the time. In future more and more ships will use sails. Even cargo ships. This is where the wind will really work.

    Putting hard things in the navigable waters is the bad idea as far as I am concerned. If we want to use the wind and solar energy - do not forbid, but promote, drying linen and clothes outside, in the open air, as opposite to electrical driers. Sun-wind-linen-cloth-drier is the most effective green power device. Still in some European and North America countries it is the tabu.

    So we put hardware items in the open fields and in the navigable ocean to produce electricity and then use this electricity to for electrical driers, which consume enormous amounts of energy. But the Order is kept.

    This is an attempt to solve a social problem with an engineering means. Instead dry clothing and linen outside, get over it, use energy saving lamps, small cars, and leave oceans and nature fields alone. This is the real solution, real thing.
  • Re:Why not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EsbenMoseHansen ( 731150 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:33AM (#28318063) Homepage

    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).

    Where did you get the numbers for the windmill? I was unable to find them.

    I am all for nuclear (and wind! let's spread out! In different directions!) Anyway, as far as I can tell, the cost of a nuclear plant is very different from a windmill (flotilla, I suppose in this case).

    Costs includes construction, fuel, security, maintenance and deconstruction. Of these, it seems likely that nuclear has lower construction and maintenance cost, while windmills (rather obviously) wins in fuel, security and probably deconstruction cost (I suppose they could simply be emptied and sunk, reusing whatever parts are reusable.).

    Does anyone know a sensible comparison of these cost? I tried to read one of Bjorn Lomborg's, once, and I nearly fell of the chair laughing. Now there is a man who cannot use a calculator.

  • Re:Why not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jhol13 ( 1087781 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:35AM (#28318069)

    WHAT??? Only ten times more expensive? You've gotta be kidding.

    Oh, you were ... 400 million NOK for a prototype v.s. 4500 million Euros (e.g. Olkiluoto 3).

  • by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @03:51AM (#28318147) 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.

  • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @04:33AM (#28318281)

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

    The word "best" is not solely defined by price. When you buy a new car, do you always get the cheapest pile of shit you can get your hands on? Or do you look for something with a certain range, speed, capacity, and maintainability, in addition to it being in your budget?

    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 [] in the Sierra Club tried to address that issue, the members of that faction were accused of being "racist".

    Sending all the immigrants back just moves the problem of energy generation to another place in the world - but it will still be there, and the ecosystem is a global one.

    Of course, americans use more energy per head of the population than everybody else. Scaling that back a little would be trivial, and wouldn't have any impact on your quality of life.

  • by catmistake ( 814204 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:15AM (#28318411) Journal
    You missed my point. Not talking about precisely what happened at Chernobyl... but a nuclear accident, any nuclear accident, that had the scale of Chernobyl. Maybe what happened at Chernobyl can't happen again, but other stuff with exactly the same results can happen.

    take a look at this []

    Anyway, I'd like to know what Chernobyl, and any nuclear accident of that scale, might cost, and I'd like this figure taken into account when considering the cost building more nuclear power plants. kthx.

  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @05:22AM (#28318441)

    Nuclear power stations are driven to improve safety, not to cut costs. Nuclear power will always be crippled by over-regulation and excessive conservatism, because the risks are just too high if things go pear (or mushroom) shaped.

    Wind generator manufactures can be a lot more aggressive in cost cutting, because the consequences are a lot less severe.

    In the long run, wind generators will drop in price a lot quicker.

  • That's a lovely list you have there. It appears, though, your premise in posting it has two questionable basis:

    1) That all the knowledge required to prevent any of those incidents was freely available to humanity before we started experimenting with nuclear power.

    2) That people in the nuclear power industry don't learn from these events and design & train against them.

    The acquisition of knowledge isn't 'free'- sorry, no one is smart enough to foresee everything. Once the knowledge is acquired, however, it spreads rapidly throughout the industry.

    Plus, a number of the items on that list are exaggerated, and their importance 'played up' for ignorant readers. Ignorance is of course rampant on the anti-nuke side: ignorance of the specifics of radiation, lack of perspective, the inability to evaluate realistic alternatives, ignorance of the political issues (not technical ones) that dominate the 'waste debate', etc, etc.

    For most anti-nukers, all they have left is 'RADIATION BAD!!!!'. If they've got anything more than that, it's "WASTE BAD." In both cases a substantial level of ignorance and the accompanying fear are an intrinsic part of the equation.

    Anyway, I'd like to know what Chernobyl, and any nuclear accident of that scale, might cost, and I'd like this figure taken into account when considering the cost building more nuclear power plants.

    Now multiply it by the probability, and I'm just fine with that- Because the added dollar cost of this figure is utterly insignificant.

  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordVader717 ( 888547 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:49AM (#28318927)

    Compare "the worst that can happen" in nuclear power to the same with solar, wind, geothermal, or hydroelectric power.

    The last one really bugs me. Many more people have lost their lives due to damn failure than because of nuclear power plants. You should really investigate your claims.

    This alone should be enough to deter us from nuclear power, because no matter what, mistakes are always made and the unexpected occurs.

    By installing mechanisms aimed at multiple redundancy and self-regulation, we can basically exclude many previously feared MCAs like chernobyl and stamp down other safety breaches to statistical insignifgance. We just need the right safety culture and openness.

    Solve the waste problem

    The problem with final depository is mainly a political one than the science. If we focus on breeder reactors, we'll need far less space than we do today, which by the way isn't all that much to begin with.

    solve the security problems

    First define "secure". There are plenty of "security problems" with air travel, but that hasn't stopped us.

    solve the what-if problems

    Solved for people who have faith in science and the laws of physics.

    THEN build your nuke plants.

    Even then we will be held up by hysterics and scaremongorers who were forged by popular media, and who neither have any interest in engineering and science or of energy politics.
    They will continue to cause damage and will even criticize scientific research because of their fundamentalist ideals that were entrenched in them decades ago.

    In the meantime, we can schlep our way through the problems of other truely clean energy alternatives

    Let me guess that in the mean time, you will continue to use your cooker, water boiler, TV and computer, and probably a car and enjoy a variety of food and consumer products made possible because of our energy infrastructure.

    So power is a little more expensive

    That's one fundamental misconception that many people share. The consequances of energy shortage are very dire and severe. Energy policy need to be planned decades in advance, it's not a "supply and demand" problem like you learned in school.
    I bet it hasn't once crossed you mind that as little as a generation ago in western countries, there was heavy investment in the electric grid so that people could get out of their backward living conditions and economic burdon.
    This required many battles for public money and truly long-term investment.
    I know that with time people tend to take things for granted but sheesh.

  • Re:Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:19AM (#28319049)

    A dam breaking and flooding a populated valley is small potatoes compared to a melt-down or a terrorist group stealing the bad stuff and doing stuff with that stuff.

    A dam breaking and flooding a populated valley will basically kill everyone there. A melt-down might kill a few people and will give a slightly increase risk of cancer to many more. A terrorist group, assuming they could get either the fuel or the waste and transport it offsite without dying from radiation poisoning would be unable to much of anything with it, except leaving it somewhere it would irradiate people - they'd cause a lot more actual destruction with conventional explosives.

    I'm sorry to say this, but you have it exactly backwards.

    A flood is over within days to weeks, and (hopefully) the damage is repaired within a few years.

    A broken dam can't be repaired, it has to be completely rebuilt, possibly redesigned (since the old design broke). And while the flood will be over in a few days, don't forget that many dams also act as water supply to nearby communities. What will they do?

    A major dam breaking is a major catastrophe that makes Chernobyl look like small potatoes.

  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @11:31AM (#28320083)

    10 years after a dam breaking you can use the land, 10 years after Chernobyl they where still guarding the wasteland.

    The "wasteland" is in the process of turning into a forest, and is already a wildlife haven.

    The real cost of CHernobyl was not the 56 direct deaths but the ~4,000 additional cancer deaths.

    How many cancer deaths does the average coal power plant cause during its life?

    There are a tiny number of dam's worldwide that could damage on that magnitude.

    And only those few produce power on the magnitude of Chernobyl.

    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.

    They might exist. They might not. Producing power makes money, saving lives doesn't. Isn't capitalism wonderful?

    Anyway, you didn't answer my point, despite re-iterating it: in case a dam breaks, what will the communities that depend on it for water do?

  • Re:Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @12:25PM (#28320487)
    we have plants going for their 2nd round of 30 years. cost of campaigns is negligible. waste doesn't need to be guarded for a million year, it merely needs to be reprocessed because it contains 1% plutonium and breedable u-238, it's golden source of energy. Defense cost is negligible compared to huge outlay we make for petrodollar empire protection. Cost of nuclear accidents has been very small for sane reactor designs and procedures, nothing really major has happened compared to fossil fuel toll on life.
  • Re:Why not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by toriver ( 11308 ) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:05AM (#28325245)

    Meanwhile, coal power plants are spewing out radioactive isotopes by the bushel because noone outside of geologists even bother that coal holds many radioactive elements. []

    Nuclear power plants are built to deal with radioactive materials, coal plants - not so much.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian