Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Japan Power

Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Starts Generating Power 181

mdsolar writes in with news about a new wind-energy project off the coast of Fukushima. "A project to harness the power of the wind about 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, began generating power on an operational basis today. The project, funded by the government and led by Marubeni Corp. (8002), is a symbol of Japan's ambition to commercialize the unproven technology of floating offshore wind power and its plan to turn quake-ravaged Fukushima into a clean energy hub. 'Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by step,' Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima, said today at a ceremony in Fukushima marking the project's initiation. 'Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Starts Generating Power

Comments Filter:
  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Monday November 11, 2013 @01:45PM (#45392659) Homepage Journal

    Offshore wind is hardly unproven. Wind turbines in general are well established and becoming a mature technology. The off shore part is also fairly well developed around the world and really just needs more cost reduction. There is no chance of it not working or anything like that, and it already economically viable.

    Japan has vast offshore wind resources, with constant power available all year round.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by phayes ( 202222 )

      Really? FLOATING wind turbines are a proven technology? Well then, I suppose that given that this is the first floating deep water wind turbine that your assurances are all we need to know that all the major bugs have been worked out.

      • Yes, floating wind plants are a proven thechnology. There plenty of reference plants, e.g. in Norway. And if not: what exatly would you need proof for? What is the damn difference versus a fixed installation? Sigh ...

        • by mikael ( 484 )

          Wow, if they can have floating wind turbines, then it would be possible to have a floating processing plant to collect all that trash that was washed out to sea by the tsunami. Imagine having a whole fleet floating around that area the size of Texas, and just running sift pans through the ocean.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Really? FLOATING wind turbines are a proven technology?

        YES. Ocean engineer here. It seems that wind turbines are not your concern, but the structure upon which it sits? Wikipedia [] has a decent summary of some of the offshore structures that are used (traditionally for oil platforms, but they can be used for anything). TLPs [] are a typical approach for something like this.

      • Wind turbines are proven and barges are proven, so put a wind turbine on a barge and you're done.

    • The word you missed was "floating"
      It was hidden in the title and the summary.

    • Re:Not unproven (Score:5, Informative)

      by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @01:59PM (#45392833) Homepage Journal
      The "unproven" part is the floating platforms. And, in this case a floating transfer station as well. But it is true that these installations are becoming more common. And they seem to have an advantage in installation and maintenance since less rugged tow boats can be used for installation and maintenance can be done on shore. Eventually, I expect that these will be used to charge floating flow batteries or synthesize hydrocarbon fuels is the highest wind resource areas such as south of Iceland which are too remote for grid hookup. []
    • Re:Not unproven (Score:5, Interesting)

      by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @02:11PM (#45392949)

      I was in Hawaii about 17 years ago and during my time there I took a tour around the island of Oahu. There was one location with many large wind turbines that were derelict. The tour guide told us about how the maintenance on those turbines far outstripped the value of the energy they reaped. I am sure technology has advanced since then but salt is still very corrosive and maintenance costs are still high. I'd say it's not proven until they've been up and running at least a decade or so.

      • Re:Not unproven (Score:4, Informative)

        by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @03:37PM (#45393645) Homepage

        I'd say it's not proven until they've been up and running at least a decade or so.

        Today is your lucky day. From wikipedia:

            The Middelgrunden offshore wind farm---with 20 turbines the world's largest offshore farm at the time it was built in 2000

        which is more than a decade ago.

      • I guess this is why there are no new wind farms in Hawaii.... Oh wait! []

        It looks like [] there were two small installations (totalling about 11MW) that were shut down, but there are over 200MW currently in production and more on the way.

        Remember that the early, small turbines that had very high blade speeds were extremely problematic.

    • Offshore makes sense because 1) the wind patterns can be favorable and 2) they don't take up land. The downsides compared to land based wind are transmission losses (depending on how far offshore) , the corrosive sea-spray environment, and the inconvenience of accessing via boat. By making sue of floating platforms, construction cost differences can be minimized.

      It would be interesting to see a good comparison of the lifetime costs of sea vs land based wind generation.
      • Offshore wind would be very suitable for the Mid-Atlantic Bight []. BTW, that's a term I'd never heard before, despite living by it my entire life. It's roughly Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras. Apparently it has strong consistent offshore winds that are ideal. Watch out Midwest, you may not be the country's wind power capital for long.

    • Fukushima has an advantage as a site: Since it's depopulated due to the radiation hazard, there's nobody to complain about how "those ugly windmills are ruining my view".

    • Wind turbines produces little steady electrical current, and even if you go with peak energy production from these things and couple with solar there is a cost to the environment. A large wind farm that produces any sort of useful amount of electricity for private or industrial consumption takes the wind out of the environment as a system in the same way that damming a river takes the water out. You have a "dead zone" where there is little wind and above you have a much higher flow of wind, which can only l

  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @01:46PM (#45392673) Homepage Journal

    So... Japan set up a giant radioactive fan offshore and the Philippines gets hit by an incredibly powerful hurricane...

  • This is completely unrelated and random and not a shot at anything but much power does it generate from radioactive wind? Is it more or less?
  • ...I know, I know...tsunamis and typhoons don't cause much damage 12 miles from shore. But still, doesn't this seem like a somewhat poor location for a floating wind turbine? It's not anchored to the seafloor, which means that typhoons and storms could push it close to shore, and we've seen the kind of debris that can be produced by a tsunami.

    Japan may not have a lot of power options, but it seems like this might not be the best choice...
  • by sunking2 ( 521698 )
    It's a giant fan blowing all the radiation to the West Coast.
  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @02:38PM (#45393207)

    Oh, that's nice. Add another *five hundred* turbines and you'll come close to matching what was lost when the nuke plant shut down. On a windy day.

    The public tends to vastly underestimate the energy output of wind turbines. I'm not arguing that wind is pointless -- far from it! But two wind turbines is just an empty symbolic gesture. Two thousand wind turbines ... now you're talking.

    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      You mean vastly overestimate.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Your numbers are more than double the actual number of turbines required. That nicely demonstrates how quickly wind turbines are improving.

      Anyway, so what if we need a lot of them? There is plenty of space and the total cost is still lower than nuclear, including all maintenance etc. It's not like anyone will be fishing there any more. I don't see a problem.

    • by olau ( 314197 )

      True, but these are prototypes. So of course you don't put 2000 of them up at once, it's not like it's in Denmark where there are currently about 500 offshore non-floating wind turbines.

    • Two thousand wind turbines ... now you're talking.

      Wind turbines only generate about 20% of their rated power on average, so you're going to need ten thousand instead of two thousand of them. Also, they can go for days on end generating zero power, so you'll also need to build a 4.7-GW nuclear-power plant to back them up.

  • by triffid_98 ( 899609 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @02:39PM (#45393213)
    You know, I do believe the US developed these "Floating Offshore Platforms" that generate power some time ago, we just decided to put nuclear reactors and F-16's on ours.
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @03:16PM (#45393495)
    According to TFA, the initial turbine has a 2 MW capacity. Offshore wind has about a 0.3-0.4 capacity factor. Nuclear has a 0.9 capacity factor. So to replace the 4696 MW the Fukushima nuclear plant could generate, you'd need (4696*0.9) / (2*0.35) = 6038 of these 2 MW turbines. Even if you go with the larger 7 MW turbines they're planning as a follow-up, you'd need 1725 of those.

    Considering they've set aside $222 million to build and operate these three turbines for 5 years, a full replacement for the nuclear plant's generating capacity would cost $167.5 billion. Realistically I expect that price would come down if they did roll it out on that scale. But even land-based wind turbines are about $1.8 million per MW of capacity. So the 12000 MW of turbines you'd need to replace the Fukushima nuclear plant would have a baseline cost of $22 billion before you added the floating platforms and adapted them to survive in a saltwater environment and lay down power cables to bring the electricity back to shore.
    • by mdsolar ( 1045926 ) on Monday November 11, 2013 @03:36PM (#45393639) Homepage Journal
      The capacity factor for Japanese nuclear power is zero and prior to the accident it was around 0.8.
      • So how well would the floating platforms withstand a tsunami?

        • the tsunami would pass right underneath it. Because water isn't compressible, out in the open ocean away from the shore, a tsunami is just a shock wave moving through the water. At best it'll raise the water level by a meter. A moored platform would bob a bit and that would be that.
        • Very well. A few miles off the coast, a tsunami wave is so low that you'd be lucky to recognize it. They're only destructive when they hit the coast. OTOH, typhoons are another matter.

        • Withstand a tsunami? Easily. Not so sure about a typhoon, though...

        • by BranMan ( 29917 )

          12 miles off-shore a tsunami is barely a ripple on the waters surface. It only becomes a wave when it hits the shore.

    • This cost analysis does not consider the number of times they would need to be replaced during the 40-60 year operating life of a nuclear plant, or the cost of spinning reserve required to back up the wind generators. To be fair, it also does not discuss the fuel cost differential, although that is relatively small and would have limited impact on the general conclusion. Nor does it compare lifetime operating costs, of which a large portion is staffing. I imagine it would require a staff of about 500 to man
      • by olau ( 314197 )

        This cost analysis does not consider the number of times they would need to be replaced during the 40-60 year operating life of a nuclear plant, or the cost of spinning reserve required to back up the wind generators.

        That's a bit one-sided. The nuclear power plant is going to need repairs and upgrades too, and it also needs backup. The latter should be self-evident given the current situation.

        Currently wind turbines are sold with 20-25 years guarantees, but nobody really knows how long they're going to last.

        • Yes, nuclear can have expensive upgrades, but not a wholesale replacement that would be the relative equivalent of a turbine generator replacement. The largest replacement in a typical nuclear plant is steam generators, once or twice in 40 to 60 years, a couple hundred million dollars each time, only a small percentage of a total plant build cost.
          • I'm relatively certain that at least two of Fukushima's nuclear reactors need something more akin to "wholesale replacement" than a new "steam generator".

      • Here in the US, wind power is putting nuclear power out of business. [] So, your cost estimates may be a little off.
        • No, gas is the price challenge for nuclear, and if the playing field were even, solar and wind would not stand a chance in the fight. I do find it highly ironic that a solar advocate would take credit for the price deflation resulting from burning of fossil fuels. The only market impacts due to renewables are result of forced purchases and huge incentives, not actual cost basis pricing.

          That article you wrote has a bunch of flaws and misconceptions. It is pretty obviously non-objective, just look at the a
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      No-one is suggesting that these turbines will be a full replacement for the nuclear plant. Just because one wind farm does not replace the thing it happens to be built next to doesn't mean it isn't worth having. The whole point of renewables is to distribute energy production, and in a country that was heavily reliant on one type of highly centralized generation that is now completely fucked the Japanese know why that is important.

      The $222m figure is for R&D, not the normal build/operation cost. On-shor

    • by olau ( 314197 )

      Offshore wind has about a 0.3-0.4 capacity factor.

      In Denmark it's about 0.45-0.55. You can't really compare the costs of 3 prototype units with a full-scale rollout.

      As for the total price, the nuclear plant you're comparing it to would probably be pretty expensive to build today too. In the UK, they're tossing 25 billion USD in Hinkley Point C at 3200 MW nameplate as far as I can tell.

  • This sounds like a Vesta WindFloat 2MW turbine. Is this really a Mitsubishi product?

    • by olau ( 314197 )

      From the photos [], the platform doesn't look like a WindFloat.

      Mitsubishi and Vestas recently announced a joint venture in offshore turbines, though.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake