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First Floating Wind Farm Delivers Electricity (arstechnica.com) 81

The world's first floating offshore wind farm began delivering electricity to the Scottish grid today. "The 30MW installation, situated 25km (15.5mi) from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters, miles away from land, where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible," reports Ars Technica. "At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes." From the report: The installation, called Hywind Scotland, is also interesting because it was built by Statoil, a Norwegian mega-corporation known for offshore oil drilling. Statoil has pursued offshore wind projects in recent years, using the companyâ(TM)s experience building and managing infrastructure in difficult open sea conditions to its advantage. Hywind Scotland began producing power in September, and today it starts delivering electricity to the Scottish grid. Now, all that's left is for Statoil and its partner company Masdar to install a 1MWh lithium-ion battery, charmingly called âoeBatwind,â on shore. Batwind will help the offshore system regulate power delivery and optimize output. After a number of small demonstration projects, the five 6MW turbines are the first commercial turbines to lack a firm attachment to the seafloor. They're held in place using three giant suction anchors, which are commonly used in offshore oil drilling. Essentially, an enormous, empty, upside-down âoebucketâ is placed on the seafloor, and air is sucked out of the bucket, which forces the bucket downward, further into the seafloor sediment. The report mentions a 2013 video that shows how offshore wind farms work.
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First Floating Wind Farm Delivers Electricity

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    • by jopsen ( 885607 ) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @09:47PM (#55394123) Homepage
      There's probably no A/Cs in Scotland... and who knows maybe they don't use electricity for heating either. Oh, and it's the EU so energy saving light-bulbs are mandatory.

      There are quite a few brilliant heating systems around the world that use excess heating from electricity production, or waste incinerators... When heating is supplied to your house through a hot water pipe it's possible to get a very impressive efficiency.
      Heating water and installing hot water pipes is boring technology, but well proven and probably one of the more cost efficient ways to reduce greenhouse emissions. Even if the heating origins from burning stuff.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Homes in the UK mostly use natural gas for heating.

        The UK's average household electricity consumption is slightly below the EU average - which, in turn, is less than half of the US average.

      • Oh, and it's the EU so energy saving light-bulbs are mandatory.

        No they aren't. They were going to ban them in 2012, and then they were going to have another go in 2016, but they are still available in high street shops. You might struggle to find them in a supermarket or department store though, you need to go to a proper lighting supplier or electrical shop.

        That said, most people in their homes now have non-incandescent lamps for regular lighting. Things like the lights in ovens are still incandescent and

        • by Pascoea ( 968200 )

          Oh, and it's the EU so energy saving light-bulbs are mandatory.

          While this quote didn't have a direct negative connotation to it, I'm going to assume by the tone that they don't like that they can't buy incandescent any more. My question is why? I hate incandescent lights. I have two ceiling fans and a chandelier that I am continuously changing bulbs on. It doesn't matter if it's "expensive" GE bulbs or the cheapest ones I can find at WallMart, they just don't last. Dimmable LED bulbs from WallMart go for around $2-3 a piece. The fact that these lights are the mos

      • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @07:49AM (#55395567)

        Heating water and installing hot water pipes is boring technology...

        Especially in Iceland. When you need hot water, you just drill for it.

        Meanwhile, I wouldn't even want to imagine what an âoebucketâ is. Sounds formidable.

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @10:19PM (#55394223) Journal

      Trolling much?

      Firstly, it's not Scotland's use that is important, since the UK has a grid that covers Scotland, England and Wales.

      Secondly, and I don't know if this is a good or bad measure, but households in the UK use more electricity per household than in many other European countries. Of course the number is much lower than in the USA, which is profligate in its domestic electricity use.

      Note that many people use electricity for heating. They use storage heaters, which store heat when electricity is cheap (at night) and release it during the day.

      • by dj245 ( 732906 )

        Secondly, and I don't know if this is a good or bad measure, but households in the UK use more electricity per household than in many other European countries. Of course the number is much lower than in the USA, which is profligate in its domestic electricity use.

        Note that many people use electricity for heating. They use storage heaters, which store heat when electricity is cheap (at night) and release it during the day.

        The US has a quite a few cities where the average high is 85F or more for 1/3 [rssweather.com] to 1/2 [rssweather.com] of the year. The US also has very low electricity prices, Google tells me that UK electricity costs around 15.5 pence (~$0.20)per KW/hr, which is nearly double my rate.

        I live in the southern part of the US, and my electricity cost peaks at ~$200 per month in the summer. The biggest energy saving measure I could take (aside from removing my pool) would be to install double pane windows. The cost for that ranges from

        • I also live in the southern US, and installed low E argon filled windows two decades ago. They dropped my electricity bill by maybe 10%. My original equipment furnace/AC units failed ten years ago, and I replaced them with ultra high efficiency HVAC (giant outside condensers etc). That cost a lot, but I had no choice about the replacement and the marginal cost of high efficiency was a few thousand each for the three floors of my house. That (plus finishing my attic and adding 16" of insulation under the

        • Your larger electricity use (compared to the UK) is probably largely due to living in a house that is much larger than the average house in Europe.

          Electricity per household use in Italy is considerably lower than in the UK. Italy is a much hotter country than the UK.

        • Sorry, but someone who needs AC when the temperature is 85F is probably an idiot.
          I'm to lazy to look it up, but 100F is body temperature (37C). I would not activate any AC below something like 130F.

          OTOH my GF is a Thai, she cools down her car to 16C. I got a bladder infection because of driving to much with her. Now I always have a thick jacket in her car.

          Most places on earth that I visited, where people were using AC don't need AC.

          Either you simply construct better buildings (e.g. as in Germany or UK or fo

          • by haruchai ( 17472 )

            "I would not activate any AC below something like 130F"

            Wow, you're hardcore. The European Heat Wave of 2003 killed thousands at lower temps than that.

            "my GF is a Thai, she cools down her car to 16C. I got a bladder infection because of driving to much with her. Now I always have a thick jacket in her car"

            ?? Thailand is a fucking hot country - I can't believe anyone who grew up there would enjoy temps that cool.
            I spent a couple decades working outdoors in northern climates so 16C sounds like heaven to me

            • Wow, you're hardcore. The European Heat Wave of 2003 killed thousands at lower temps than that.
              That is nonsense.
              People died in areas where it was much hotter, and they behaved stupid.

              Thailand is a fucking hot country
              It is not. The coast is to windy to be hot and the northern oart is to high to be hot.
              I suggest to travel there once ...
              Of course if you are stuck in a big city ... obviously it is hot,

              - I can't believe anyone who grew up there would enjoy temps that cool.
              She is wearing her pelt inside of the c

              • by haruchai ( 17472 )

                "That is nonsense.
                People died in areas where it was much hotter"
                130 F is FIFTY-FOUR deg Celsius.
                The vast majority of people who died in the 2003 heatwave were stiff & cold long before it got that hot - which it didn't ANYWHERE

    • They were being conservative. 30 MW / 20,000 homes = 1500 Watts per home.

      That's higher than the average U.S. home's consumption [eia.gov]. 10812 kWh per year / 8766 hours per year = 1233 Watts per home.
      • Well, it does not really make sense to use the peak output of a power plant and the 'assumed households number' it can supply to calculate the average power consumption of those households.

        Your mind gymnastics was for nothing. Of hou had tried to take a capacity factor into account it would have been more fruitful, but still not leading to the goal :)

        See here: https://www.ovoenergy.com/guid... [ovoenergy.com]

    • Jesus fuck, beau, we know you don't fucking edit anything but for fuck's sake at least strip the unicode when you cut and paste someone else's work for your summaries.

    • In the 1970's the lochs (reservoirs) in Argyllshire were converted to hydro electric (with many switched off because the electricity is not required) and the amazing Cruachan [visitcruachan.co.uk] hydro scheme can start generating in 25 seconds for burst load on the national grid.

      All the social provided housing in my area is being fitted with PV Solar panels and there is huge wind generation offshore with quite a bit onshore as well. Scotland is one of the windiest places in Europe.

      see the daily wind generation stats here [windeurope.org].

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @09:40PM (#55394103)

    It's a dumb joke... but it's mine.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @09:42PM (#55394109) Homepage
    A typical power plant is often on the order of 100s of MW http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/how-is-electricity-measured.html [ucsusa.org], but this is of course what will be just the first such, and more will follow. Since they have a large battery farm, it will also not suffer from the general problem that many solar and wind farms have of being essentially intermittent in their production and often producing more power than one needs sometimes with no way to store it. Taken together with the fact that new wind systems are so efficient that many are repowering wind farms early https://electrek.co/2017/10/16/new-wind-turbine-efficiency-so-great-utilities-repowering-farms-early/ [electrek.co], it appears that we're finally at a point where wind is starting to be a a serious competitor. Even if natural as were not killing coal and oil, solar and wind would seem to be doing almost as effective a job.
    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @10:35PM (#55394261)
      Wind has been competitive or on the cusp of being competitive for about 5 years now. Especially off of Scotland, which has the highest capacity factor for wind in the world (capacity factor = ratio of actual electricity produced to peak production capability). In most of the world, onshore wind has a capacity factor of about 0.2-0.25, offshore wind about 0.3-0.4. Off Scotland it's closer to 0.6, with some locations going over 0.7. So if there's one place where wind will be viable and competitive, it's Scotland. (Not true for solar, which still relies heavily on subsidies to be cost-competitive.)

      The 1 MWh battery they have is laughably tiny. For a typical power plant churning out 500 MW, that's 7.2 seconds worth of electricity. Even for a 30 MW wind farm with 0.6 capacity factor, it's only 3.3 minutes worth of electricity. What's going to save them is that the winds off Scotland are very consistent so they're not going to need that battery much.

      Also, as stated in summary, these floating wind turbines borrow a lot of technology from oil platforms - anchorage, stability in heavy seas, survivability against ice floes, and underwater pipe/cable for pumping the oil/electricity back to shore. Some people like to think nothing good comes from oil, but that's simply not true. If it weren't for the R&D done by the oil industry, it probably would've taken 20 more years to get this floating wind farm working. This isn't an Us vs Them situation. This is simply All of Us finding the most cost-effective and least damaging forms of energy generation. Most oil companies are also heavily invested in renewable energy technology. Because they're not really oil companies; they're energy companies.
      • Interesting that Scottish electricity producers have to pay to connect to the grid [bbc.co.uk] because there is so much electricity being produced and not enough population density to use it; whereas electricity producers in England (much more densely populated) are subsidised to connect to the national grid.

        It seems new production records are announced [independent.co.uk] every few months

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Solar is one of the cheapest forms of energy, one of the few that is subsidy free in the UK, compete with battery storage. https://uk.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]

        The battery isn't a UPS, it's for smoothing the output as the wind fluctuates slightly. It also gives them some capability to meet short term peaks, which are very profitable.

      • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @07:52AM (#55395577)

        The 1 MWh battery they have is laughably tiny. For a typical power plant churning out 500 MW, that's 7.2 seconds worth of electricity.

        So exactly the right size to allow a windfarm to ride through a sudden grid induced load shift and thus potentially avoid a cascading outage of the entire wind farm as it loses synchronisation to the grid.

        Not everything is about powering homes.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday October 18, 2017 @10:50PM (#55394303) Homepage Journal

    Essentially, an enormous, empty, upside-down âoebucketâ is placed on the seafloor, and air is sucked out of the bucket, which forces the bucket downward, further into the seafloor sediment.

    If there's a lot of air in that bucket, you're going to have a hard time getting it to the bottom. I'd guess they actually just open the suction hole and let the air flow out and fill it with water as they're lowering it, then once it's on the bottom they suck water out. The flow of water over the bottom edge seems like it would loosen the sand and make it easier for the bucket to sink, at the same time that the water pressure on top of the bucket (due to the pressure differential from the suction) would force it downward.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      This just like setting up an inertial platform in the ocean. You tow the long tube out horizontally and then flood one end of it [ucsd.edu]. The flooding end sinks while the not-flooded-yet end pops up.

      If you divided the platform into two watertight segments, you could flood just one of the compartments and it would flip up to a vertical orientation with part of the non-flooded compartment below the waterline. You then position the tower where you want it, and flood the upper compartment just enough to settle it o

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      Essentially, an enormous, empty, upside-down âoebucketâ is placed on the seafloor, and air is sucked out of the bucket, which forces the bucket downward, further into the seafloor sediment.

      If there's a lot of air in that bucket, you're going to have a hard time getting it to the bottom. I'd guess they actually just open the suction hole and let the air flow out and fill it with water as they're lowering it, then once it's on the bottom they suck water out. The flow of water over the bottom edge seems like it would loosen the sand and make it easier for the bucket to sink, at the same time that the water pressure on top of the bucket (due to the pressure differential from the suction) would force it downward.

      That is a generally accurate [wikipedia.org] description.

  • Shocking!

    At least when the wind blows...

Human beings were created by water to transport it uphill.

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