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America's First Offshore Wind Farm In Pictures (businessinsider.com) 222

Last week, an anonymous Slashdot reader submitted a story from the Associated Press, detailing the United States' first offshore wind farm that is set to open off the cost of Rhode Island this fall. Business Insider issued a report today with some additional specifications and stunning pictures of the Block Island Wind Farm: "GE and Deepwater Wind, a developer of offshore turbines, are installing five massive wind turbines in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They will make up the first offshore wind farm in North America, called the Block Island Wind Farm. Over the past several weeks, the teams have worked to install the turbines 30 miles off the cost of Rhode Island, and are expected to finish by the end of August 2016. The farm will be fully operational by November 2016." Fun fact: GE's offshore wind farm has turbines that are twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. You can view the slideshow of images here.
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America's First Offshore Wind Farm In Pictures

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  • by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Thursday August 18, 2016 @08:25PM (#52729991)
    That was painful to read
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      A megawatt is a unit of POWER, not ENERGY. 30 MW is about 3% the power output of a typical nuclear or fossil-fuel power plant.

      • by quenda ( 644621 )

        So what the hell is a BTU - "British Thermal Unit" ? I asked a British friend, but he had no idea.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        A megawatt is a unit of POWER, not ENERGY. 30 MW is about 3% the power output of a typical nuclear or fossil-fuel power plant.

        Yes.
        Since demand is not a square wave we need tiny little generators like these to fill in the gaps. Even though they cost more per MW/h they cost a lot less than building more huge units a cover a fraction of the demand those huge units can supply.
        Windmills compete against other tiny generators like gas turbines not against a a typical nuclear or fossil-fuel power plant.
        I used to work for a power utility with almost nothing other than coal fired units. We burned a shitload of coal we didn't need to becau

        • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

          I don't think I understand. Why would you "bring online" some wind turbines in a period of high demand? If you already have them, why wouldn't you be running them all the time and use less coal? You're not paying for the wind. Then you still have the problem of spooling something up and down to match demand, but your baseline coal use is lower.

          I'm not trying to disagree with you, I just don't get it. Your logic would make sense to me in any other case where there was a fuel cost to the "little generators."

          • Why would you "bring online" some wind turbines in a period of high demand?

            Because that's when you need that little bit more of extra capacity.

            why wouldn't you be running them all the time and use less coal

            Because demand is not a square wave and those coal units are huge. It takes many hours to bring a thermal unit online, even the tiny ones (eg. 120MW for something really old).

            You're not paying for the wind

            Running costs are not zero compared with idle/reserve costs. Spinning a heavy generator instead of

    • are installing five massive wind turbines in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

      This wasn't exactly very impressive to read, either...

      • think the whole summary was written by someone whose knowledge and view of the world probably doesn't extend far beyond what they can see form the back of their pickup.
      • This wasn't exactly very impressive to read, either...

        No, but what a feat of engineering if they had actually done it! Pay-off time must be long on such an installation, but you'd have to admire the guts to bring such a project to fruition, all the same. :-)

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Thursday August 18, 2016 @10:15PM (#52730305)

      This was another good one:

      The potential for offshore wind energy in the US is massive. If we build in all of the available ocean space, the winds above coastal waters could provide more than 4,000 gigawatts a year. That's more than four times the nation’s current annual electricity production.

      So, gosh, all we have to do is use all the available coastal ocean space, and we'll get four times the annual electrical output. That's a bit like saying "If we covered every square foot of the contiguous US in solar panels, we'd have about 1300x the current electrical output." Technically true, but somewhat misleading in its sheer improbability.

      Yeah, a good thing to start diversifying our energy needs, but let's not get carried away with over-optimistic nonsense like that.

      • The sentence you quote makes not much sense. 4000 GW is a power unit, bot energy. So perhaps he meant 4000GWh, but that is an absurd low number for americas energy need per year.
        Then again, to power all of America with wind power you need not even a third of Floridas and Oregons coast.
        If you plastered the whole cost you had power for the whole earth multiple times.
        And then again, why do you care about how much coast is 'used' you wont see the wind mills from land anyway!

  • I'll agree. Those pictures are about as pleasing as a triptych of oil refineries in NJ.

    • No, the oIL platform next to them is significantly uglier, imho.

      And neither is quite as ugly as your mentioned oil refineries in NJ.

      For comparison, here is an authentic NJ refinery.
      http://media.nj.com/business_i... [nj.com]

    • by tpgp ( 48001 ) on Thursday August 18, 2016 @11:08PM (#52730475) Homepage

      I'll agree. Those pictures are about as pleasing as a triptych of oil refineries in NJ.

      If anyone wants to judge for themselves, just how foolish this particular statement is, check out:

      New Jersey Oil Refinery [google.com] vs Off Shore Wind Farms [google.com].

      Sure, beauty is totally subjective, but few honest people rate an oil refinery as more beautiful than a windfarm.

      • As someone who photographs industrial equipment as a hobby, no. Oil refineries are far more beautiful especially at dusk.

        As for which I would want to live near, wind farm all the way. Refineries are smelly polluting things especially at night when they blow soot from furnaces

      • New Jersey Oil Refinery vs Off Shore Wind Farms

        To judge the comparison fairly, one must consider the setting... tell me: which would you find less beautiful: a booger on a tea coaster or a turd in the toilet bowl? ;)

        • by tpgp ( 48001 )

          To judge the comparison fairly, one must consider the setting

          Finally! An intelligent response.

          Consider tho', that most oil refineries are built on rivers or oceanfront (for shipping access & water for cooling). Most refineries are in spots of great natural beauty - you just don't think of them like that, because the refinery has made the area hideous for decades.

          And if we're considering the setting, lets also consider the smell, the polluting smoke, the respiratory problems nearby residents will suffer

  • by Max_W ( 812974 )
    as if power-lines were not enough.

    Just make a search on "birds killed by wind generators" and see images.

    Can we use led lamps and live in modest homes; like not heating or air-conditioning ten thousand of square feet just to look prestigious? Or eat a bit less and drive normal size cars? Perhaps then there would be no need to make this wonderful planet's surface ugly with so many power-lines, wind turbines towers, and chimneys.
    • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @02:05AM (#52730869)
      Wind turbines worldwide kill less than half a million birds per year; house cats kill over half a billion per year.
    • Now do a search on birds killed by people, and birds killed by pets and make sure you're sitting down. I wouldn't want you to injure yourself in all the outrage.

      • by Max_W ( 812974 )
        Bird collisions kill millions of migratory birds. Especially power-lines:
        http://www.nbcnews.com/id/4544... [nbcnews.com]
        but wind turbines quickly catching up:
        https://abcbirds.org/threat/bi... [abcbirds.org]

        It is true, cats are killing a lot too. A stray pet cat is a formidable predator, - that is why in some countries stray cats are illegal. Birds are different from humans, and some loss of younglings is inevitable. However power-lines, and now more and more wind turbines, decimate the strongest ones, who survived, grew up, a
        • Bird collisions kill millions of migratory birds.

          And human beings kill billions. But yes CO2, global warming and acid rain have no effect on birds at all. None what so ever. They'll all live through the apocalypse, except for the ones that hit a windfarm.

    • Just make a search on "birds killed by wind generators" and see images.

      That's true. But the newer, much larger turbines don't kill as many birds as the smaller ones.

  • Offshore wind is one of the most hideously expensive methods of power generation. Here is a comparison [wikipedia.org] of the levelized cost of generated electricity, in US cents per kWh, for various generating methods, projected for 2020:

    Natural gas combustion: 6.9-15.6
    Coal combustion: 8.7-16.0
    "Advanced nuclear": 9.2-10.1
    Hydro: 6.9-11.9
    Geothermal: 4.4-5.2
    Photovoltaic: 9.8-19.3
    Concentrated solar heating: 17.4-38.3
    Onshore wind: 6.6-8.2
    Offshore wind: 17.0-27.0

    These cost figures from the Energy Information Administration incl

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Friday August 19, 2016 @03:56AM (#52731053) Journal
      Look at onshore wind turbines; they said the same thing about those a few years ago. But now they are pretty cheap and still getting cheaper, where in the past they needed subsidies to be viable. They got cheaper for a simple reason: thanks to the subsidies these things got built, and in the process we are learning how to build better ones. Compared to other sources of energy, there was and still is a vast upward potential in wind turbines to increase efficiency (in terms of kWhs generated per turbine), decrease production and installation costs, and greatly simplify maintenance which is another big cost driver. Newer turbines are higher, poking into a region where winds are more constant. The newest models do not even have to be stopped in heavy winds (current ones do, at some point the wind bends the turbine blades so far in they will strike the tower) which further increases overall production efficiency. The same applies to offshore wind farms. There's not many out there yet but already costs are falling rapidly due to innovations, like specially designed support ships and the use of inspection drones contributing to lower maintenance costs, a big factor in offshore wind.

      Now is not the time to invest billions into large scale offshore wind farms. But an energy strategy aiming at replacing fossil fuels with renewables should, at this time, include subsidies for smaller offshore wind farms. See them as an investment into R&D to improve offshore wind farms and drive own costs, same as happened with onshore wind. This kind of R&D is not done in front of a blackboard or in a lab, it's practical engineering, making incremental improvements based on past experience.
      • The main costs in onshore wind are the grid connection and the cost of steel & fabrication of the tower sections. Between them, over 50% of the cost of the resulting energy. There is progress being made still in lighter, more flexible towers, but I'm not sure how much further there is to go; these days a 1% gain is a big win, while ten years ago a 10% gain was perfectly feasible (eg individual pitch control reduced tower loads by ~ 10-15%). The cost of the grid connection is largely out of the contro

    • by frnic ( 98517 )

      Is the cost of the extinction of the human race included in the cost analysis?

    • by rch7 ( 4086979 )

      Did you read at least this wikipedia page you quote? I.e.:
      "AEE points out that the average power purchase agreement (PPA) for wind power was already at $24/MWh in 2013.".
      How can it come to 6.6-8.2 cnt/kWh when it was 2.4 cnt/kWh in 2013? This "projected for 2020" report is hopelessly out of date.
      Check energy.gov for more current data:
      http://energy.gov/eere/article... [energy.gov]
      In particular this report lists 2.35 cnt/kWh average PPA in 2014 (page 56):
      http://energy.gov/sites/prod/f... [energy.gov]

  • These are going to make a great fishing spot. Fish love structure.
  • From the article:

    "It will emit about 40,000 fewer tons of greenhouse gases per year than fossil fuels would to generate the same amount of energy. That's the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road."

    According to economists, about 80,000 - 150,000 people come of age each month in America. (This is the number used to see how many minimum jobs need to be created in a month to have an effect on unemployment.) How many of those people do you think have a car? Statistically, in America, 63,760 - 119,550

  • and the windmills are wayyyy off the coast near the lighthouse. They are not block anyone's view of anything. Gorgeous looking structures. Massive things. they will certainly save Block Island a metric fuckton of money on power as BI is the most expensive power consumer in the US. The damn island imports mountains of diesel fuel to power generators FFS. That style went out in the 60s.

    Now if the cranky bastards who mandate that every house looks like Amnity out of Jaws and would let people put Solar Panels

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