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Power United Kingdom

Dutch Utility Plans Massive Wind Farm Island In North Sea (theguardian.com) 141

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Britain's homes could be lit and powered by wind farms surrounding an artificial island deep out in the North Sea, under advanced plans by a Dutch energy network. The radical proposal envisages an island being built to act as a hub for vast offshore wind farms that would eclipse today's facilities in scale. Dogger Bank, 125km (78 miles) off the East Yorkshire coast, has been identified as a potentially windy and shallow site. The power hub would send electricity over a long-distance cable to the UK and Netherlands, and possibly later to Belgium, Germany, and Denmark. TenneT, the project's backer and Dutch equivalent of the UK's National Grid, recently shared early findings of a study that said its plan could be billions of euros cheaper than conventional wind farms and international power cables. The sci-fi-sounding proposal is sold as an innovative answer to industry's challenge of continuing to make offshore wind cheaper, as turbines are pushed ever further off the coast to more expensive sites as the best spots closer to land fill up.
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Dutch Utility Plans Massive Wind Farm Island In North Sea

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  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday December 29, 2017 @11:42PM (#55832387) Journal

    The Dutch have expanded into the ocean and used wind power for quite a while.

    They've expanded their country by building dikes, pumping out water using windmill pumps, and reclaiming the seabed.

    Building an artificial island and surrounding it with windmills to generate enormous amounts of electrical energy (rather than, say, building nuclear reactors) is right in character. B-)

    (Back in the mid 20th century, one of the Lampoon magazines had a joke conspiracy theory article about the Dutch taking over the world by expanding out into the ocean and pushing the water up onto everybody else's country. It somehow involved people in other countries being awakened by the sound of chainsaws, wielded by invading Dutch military squads, being applied to their kitchen doors (to convert them into the two-segment, house-ventilating, "Dutch doors").)

    • rather than, say, building nuclear reactors

      Thankfully the Dutch are also building nuclear reactors. Safer thorium reactor trials could salvage nuclear power [engadget.com] The Dutch are aware that there are mathematical limits to renewable energy (due to intermittency), and consequently they are building clean baseload nuclear energy.

      Given the reality of climate change, it is immoral to oppose nuclear power

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Wrong. The future of energy is energy storage and nuclear power is entirely redundant, supremely expensive, and a disaster in the worst case. Vacuum flywheels, water pumps, hot water storage, any number of ways exist to invest in medium-term energy storage. All are better investments than nuclear.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by blindseer ( 891256 )

          What about a nuclear reactor on an artificial island, far from any inhabited area? One with multiple electrical power links to the mainland? I have an idea on where they could build this artificial island.

          • What about a nuclear reactor on an artificial island, far from any inhabited area?

            Now we're venturing into James Bond Villain territory...

            • What would this James Bond villain do with his nuclear reactor on an artificial island? Threaten to sell electricity at below market prices or.... not?

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@nOspAm.world3.net> on Saturday December 30, 2017 @07:22AM (#55833461) Homepage Journal

            Aside from the expense of trying to build such a complex device and supply/maintain it on an island, the extreme weather is probably more than anyone can certify a nuclear plant for anyway.

            Why bother spending more on a nuclear plant and running and decommissioning costs when you can just build a cheaper, cleaner wind farm? The wind farm won't need subsidies either, and the energy will be cheaper. Much cheaper.

          • by rew ( 6140 )

            The thing is that with nuclear power, all the people operating one say that the chances of their plant blowing up is on the order of 1 in a million per year or less. But over the past 5 decades we've seen WAY more bad mishaps happening causing damage to a very large area.... So the conclusion MUST be: We cannot safely use nuclear power on this planet.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I disagree with you. It turns out a lot of scientists disagree with you as well. The Dutch also disagree with you.

          The leading 100% renewable plan has been debunked by the national academy of science [pnas.org]. It is not feasible with current technology. Energy storage is expensive. Yes nuclear is expensive as well, but 4th generation reactors can be factory built. The Dutch are innovating in that technology.

          We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is a reason the world's leading climate scienti

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            You were doing quite well until the end when you gave your deception away. You compared Germany to France, not how Germany has improved from where it started from. You selected France because it has the largest proportional of nuclear power in the world, but neglected to mention that they have decided not to fund any more of it and that decision nearly made two of their nuclear operators bankrupt. In other words, it was a corporate welfare programme and now they have a better, cheaper alternative.

            • My deception? What deception? I compared Germany and France because they are similar. They are both European countries with strong economies. Their populations are close enough in population to draw meaningful comparisons along with their annual energy usage. The made different decisions on energy which resulted in German electricity being 10x dirtier.

              I can also compare Germany to Finland. Finland currently is using 30% nuclear with plans to increase that to 60% [wikipedia.org]. Not surprising given the high qual

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        There are no limits to remewables. One specific might, but as a whole, they aren't limited in the way you imply.
      • by mvdwege ( 243851 ) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Saturday December 30, 2017 @05:56AM (#55833271) Homepage Journal

        Look, the nuclear industry* has promised us a pony that turned out to glow in the dark and have two heads so many times, that the first time I will support a thorium-based reactor is if private industry develops and runs a prototype for 5 years in the CEO's backyard, not a moment sooner.

        Meanwhile, in the real world, nuclear power relies heavily on subsidies, has a massive waste problem and is tied in with the political hairy problem of Proliferation.

        The money wasted on new powerplants might as well be spent researching power storage solutions.

        *NOTE: I said industry. I am not against nuclear power per se, but the current industry is a malicious beast that massively overpromises and underdelivers, and it has to die and reconstructed before I will take nuclear power seriously as an alternative.

        • I have no problem with running a reactor in my backyard. And yes we need to test it. Which is why it sucks you anti-nuclear and fossil fuel people banned new nuclear R&D in the US in 1993.

          Let's get real. Nuclear is one of the least subsidies electricity sources. Renewables are subsidized at a much higher rate.

          Waste is not a massive problem. It is a red herring. Check out this youtube video series [youtube.com]. Honestly waste is not an issue. The number of people have ever been killed or even injured from

        • the first time I will support a thorium-based reactor is if private industry develops and runs a prototype for 5 years in the CEO's backyard, not a moment sooner.

          Not going to happen for a good reason. An industry which is treated with fear and contempt will attract dangerous overregulation. That is precisely what happened in the nuclear industry with dedicated one size fits all standards which leave no room for innovation or development. Designing exclusively to the standard has resulted in no proper process developement in many years and the lack of new project (again driven by fear) has left the industry with old equipment lacking even the most basic of modern saf

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      So now the UK and other parts of the EU could have to pay back the Dutch for the costs of an artificial island and to keep the power generation in profit.
      Nice to own a new island and have a other nations submit to contracts making them dependant on your "green" energy at a nice profit.
  • How did they solve the Don Quixote problem? ;)

  • Let's do this. Not because I think that off shore wind power is a good idea but because I think that this would be a good place to put a nuclear power plant.

    I expect them to build this artificial island, lay the power cables, and put up the windmills, only to later have a storm come along and damage enough windmills, or some other problem, to send them into bankruptcy. At that point they'll have this island with the infrastructure for a power plant and not much else to do with it.

    They show the island with

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Let's do this. Not because I think that off shore wind power is a good idea but because I think that this would be a good place to put a nuclear power plant.

      I expect them to build this artificial island, lay the power cables, and put up the windmills, only to later have a storm come along and damage enough windmills, or some other problem, to send them into bankruptcy. At that point they'll have this island with the infrastructure for a power plant and not much else to do with it.

      They show the island with a landing strip for airplanes, and facilities for bringing in cargo by sea, so I guess this island could be used for a lot of things. I don't know how big the island is planned to be, and how long of a runway it could support, but if a long enough runway could be built then it could be a place to build an airport. Japan did this. Although Japan did this for the much more pressing problem of a lack of large flat areas for an airport, a problem that Europe does not have, yet.

      When it comes to concerns of a nuclear power plant being damaged by a storm like windmills there is plenty of evidence of this not being a problem. There was just a major hurricane that slammed into a nuclear power plant in Florida and it was operating through the storm. When it comes to incidents like Fukushima we've learned on how to avoid them in the future. The reactors at Fukushima were very old and not up to modern specs of safety, and had long known safety violations but was allowed to continue operating regardless. In short, don't do that again.

      In the unlikely event of a meltdown then there would be no need of an evacuation beyond the island itself. So, sure, build this island. I expect them to fail only to build a nuclear power plant on the site later.

      Why was this modded down? Are people afraid the island would encroach on fishing in the area? Spoil the pristine waters or some BS?

      Let's see if the windmills work. If they don't then let's do something productive with the island. Make it a wildlife preserve or something. I'm not sure how that would work with the windmills interfering with the birds flying over. Maybe bring some cats to the island to consume all the dead birds.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Barsteward ( 969998 )
        "Spoil the pristine waters or some BS?" it will certainly spoil it all if there is a catastrophic disaster with a nuclear plant, radio active waters and all fishing stocks contaminated forever more would be an issue.
  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday December 30, 2017 @01:43AM (#55832739)

    It won't be long before wind and solar have reached the point where they won't need any subsidies at all to compete with fossil fuels...which no doubt will still enjoy the billions of dollars in direct and indirect subsidies they get right now.

    It's unfortunate that North America squandered its opportunity to lead the world in developing and manufacturing the means to provide renewable energy, thanks to lobbying by fossil fuel corporations and low-information taxpayers who have never figured out how little they spend subsidizing renewables, and how much they spend subsidizing oil, gas, and coal.

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @04:47AM (#55833111)
      Europe is blessed with a massive shallow ocean all around its periphery. Most of it is less than 100 meters in depth [marineregions.org], making it relatively easy to build offshore structures like offshore wind farms. The UK and Ireland aren't so much islands, are they are parts of the European continent [google.com] which just happened to have their surroundings flooded. Scotland and the coast of Spain have some of the strongest and most consistent offshore winds in the world, and the shallow water depth makes it relatively cheap to build offshore wind turbines to harvest that wind energy.

      In contrast, the U.S. west coast (where winds from the ocean are strongest and most consistent) pretty much has no continental shelf [google.com]. I'm in Southern California, and when I go fishing, by the time I'm a half km from shore, the water is already deeper than the North Sea. By about 3-5 km offshore, the water is a half kilometer deep. The east coast is better off [google.com], with a continental shelf that extends about 50-100 km out that's about 100-200 meters deep. But the wind blows predominantly from west to east, meaning the wind on this continental shelf is mostly spoiled by land, so is inconsistent and doesn't blow as strongly as off Europe. That's why most of the offshore wind in the U.S. has concentrated off the coast of Massachusetts - the land there makes a sharp turn to the east, providing about 200 km of continental shelf with wind unspoiled by land to the west.

      low-information taxpayers who have never figured out how little they spend subsidizing renewables, and how much they spend subsidizing oil, gas, and coal.

      The subsidy on oil and gas, if attributed entirely to gasoline alone, works out to about 2.3 cents per gallon. Even if you take the high estimates some people like to use (which includes things like low income assistance to purchase home heating oil), it works out to about 10 cents per gallon. The Federal fuel tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon, plus about 30 cents per gallon at the state and local level. So there's no net subsidy for fossil fuels. Rather there's a huge tax on it (albeit not as big as in other countries). Huge enough to more than swamp out the coal subsidies (which are only about 1/4 that of oil and gas subsidies).

      So low-information or not, they're still right. The people complaining about the "huge" subsidies fossil fuels get always look at total dollar amounts. The total amount is huge because the vast majority of our energy is still derived from fossil fuels. If you instead look at the subsidy per unit of energy generated (i.e. how much the subsidy skews the price, depending on the energy source), you can see how massive renewable subsidies are [ncpa.org] compared to fossil fuels and nuclear.

      There's nothing wrong with this - you want to subsidize technologies you wish to develop more quickly. But arguing rewewables subsidies are underfunded compared to fossil fuels based on total dollar amount is just plain ignorant. It's like complaining that California gets $4 billion in federal highway funding while Wyoming only gets $360 million. It's not because Wyoming is being short-changed, it's because California has a lot more roads (and cars) than Wyoming. The proper comparison in that case would be federal highway dollars per mile of road (or perhaps miles driven on said roads). Just like the proper comparison for energy subsidies is per kWh or per megajoule.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Do you have a citation for your subsidy figures? I'd like to see if they include externalised costs, wars etc. Not to mention that we are looking at electricity, not gasoline.

        • Uhh, the source was linked in his post [ncpa.org]. It is about electricity generation as well - and breaks it all down. Now, if you want to attribute 100% of all foreign war spending to "fossil fuels", go ahead - but that is highly disingenuous at best, given the other reasons for war (profit, currency stabilization, democratization, etc.); if that was the case, explain Syria, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Haiti, and most of the places we've intervened. Looking at how much we spend for those sources, it's clear tha
      • MOD parent up.

      • Why are you commenting about gasoline subsidies, then throwing around words like "ignorant"? We're talking about electricity. Have you ever heard the term "comparing apples and oranges"?

      • But arguing rewewables subsidies are underfunded compared to fossil fuels based on total dollar amount is just plain ignorant. (...snip...) The proper comparison in that case would be federal highway dollars per mile of road (or perhaps miles driven on said roads). Just like the proper comparison for energy subsidies is per kWh or per megajoule.

        By that reasoning, the bigger and more successful a company becomes, the more subsidies it should get.

  • Dutch and wind in the article, and no one has posted some sort of Dutch Oven joke yet?

    I would, but I'm coming up with nothing at the moment.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Nor any comments about Dutch boys putting their fingers in dykes... er, dikes.

    • Is "Dutch Oven" an American term? I've never heard any of my many Dutch colleagues use it, nor in the 4 months I spent living and working in the Netherlands, nor anywhere else in Europe.

      It sounds like some sort of sexual prevresion which I'm not familiar with, and that always attracts attention.

  • Those undersea cables will be high voltage DC, which is difficult to generate. Can the turbines directly generate the DC and avoid a conversion step?

    • Those undersea cables will be high voltage DC, which is difficult to generate. Can the turbines directly generate the DC and avoid a conversion step?

      Of course they can. Have you never heard of a bridge rectifier? Your car's alternator supplies DC to the battery on a regular basis. The alternator uses the same principles to generate electricity as a wind turbine.

      • by aberglas :Can the turbines directly generate the DC and avoid a conversion step?

        jittles : Have you never heard of a bridge rectifier?

        I'd obviously differ with jittles on this, but I'd class a bridge rectifier (or indeed, any rectifier) as a conversion step. I can't think of any technology for rectification which doesn't involve an appreciable forward voltage drop, and therefore an energy cost.

        I'm not even sure that by splitting the rotor into multiple coils on a commutator [wikipedia.org] would help a lot. If you only

        • by aberglas :Can the turbines directly generate the DC and avoid a conversion step?

          jittles : Have you never heard of a bridge rectifier?

          I'd obviously differ with jittles on this, but I'd class a bridge rectifier (or indeed, any rectifier) as a conversion step. I can't think of any technology for rectification which doesn't involve an appreciable forward voltage drop, and therefore an energy cost.

          Ahh I missed the end of that sentence from the GP. Obviously it is impossible to make a conversion without a conversion step. Everyone knows that a turbine is going to want to produce AC instead of DC. I still say that DC is quite trivial to generate, however. You could teach a 12 year old the proper knowledge to create an AC to DC transformer.

          • On the lab bench, such conversions are trivial. With megawatt generators and 99% efficiency, you've got the additional problem of moving 10kW of heat out of the conversion equipment on a continuous basis. And including over-heating and over-voltage protections ...

            The chemistry of pouring liquid hydrocarbons fuel onto a fire is fundamentally the same as that of the diesel engine ; the engineering is a little different.

    • by jaa101 ( 627731 )

      The article says they'll build an island close to the turbines. The turbines will generate AC and send it a short distance to the island. The island will convert the AC to DC for the long links to the mainland.

  • I mean, I get it's not an eyesore as some people claim, if it's offshore, but surely the cost of shipping the items out there and running a hefty cable back to land is astronomical?
    Also servicing?

    Is there that little free land in the region?

    • by xlsior ( 524145 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @03:18AM (#55832947) Homepage

      I mean, I get it's not an eyesore as some people claim, if it's offshore, but surely the cost of shipping the items out there and running a hefty cable back to land is astronomical? Also servicing?

      Is there that little free land in the region?

      A few things to consider:
      - There is indeed little free space the way it is -- the entire country is about twice the size of New Jersey, with similar population density. (16,000 square miles, over 17,000,000 people, 1062 people per square mile). No sky scrapers.
      - The Netherlands is *really* flat -- about half is actually below sea level, and probably over 80% at less than 8m / 25 ft above sea level.
      - You'll get much higher wind speeds / more energy generation on top of hills (of which there are few), or off-shore in the middle of unobstructed sea.
      - The North Sea is relatively shallow (overall mean depth of 300ft/ 90 meters, but much shallower in many areas. Still, I'd expect that they'd use artificial structures similar to oil drill platforms to install the windmills rather than 'true' islands

      • The project is (at least partly, perhaps majorly) to power the UK. The UK has lots of space to put wind turbines in windy places.

        The old rural NIMBYs just don't want them, so the UK government (whose support base is mostly older, rural-er, NIMBYer people) has decided not to approve any wind turbine projects on land.

        The real answer is: put them on land, and raise the middle finger to the old rural people. They don't care, they won't be around when the global climate is completely broken by their selfishness.

        • The UK has lots of space to put wind turbines in windy places.

          Well, that's quite contentions. Most of the UK's windier places are in the remote highlands and peninsulas of Scotland. Where you have several other real concerns, like the energy cost of long transmission lines to market.

          The old rural NIMBYs just don't want them, so the UK government (whose support base is mostly older, rural-er, NIMBYer people) has decided not to approve any wind turbine projects on land.

          That's a genuine problem, I agree, but y

  • Is it 2013 again? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Computershack ( 1143409 ) on Saturday December 30, 2017 @09:18AM (#55833663)
    Seriously? THIS IS NOT NEW NEWS. I live in East Yorkshire. This offshore windfarm which will be four times larger than the worlds current largest has been planned for over half a decade and already has started to be built a few years ago, being built in four stages. Siemens even built a brand new Wind Turbine factory on Hull docks which was completed 2 years ago to build wind turbines and service the windfarm.
  • They've been finding all sorts of good stuff (mammoth and other "modern" fossils, even archaeological finds) from dredging, fishermen, and the like. Well, maybe they'll be able to check out the stuff being dredged up to build the island.

    I was worried about shipwrecks and the like (since there've been numerous naval engagements in the area). But apparently none were actually on the Dogger Bank itself (the German warship Blucher being the closest and it's 50 miles away). Still, navigation is going to get e

    • As you say, it's a busy area. Having been working at sea, originally in the North Sea, for over 30 years, it's a real problem. Laying pipelines or cables, you still have to do a detailed seabed survey (sidescan sonar, to a resolution of a few centimetres, and bottom-penetrating shallow seismic to at least the base of the glacial "drift"). It's not optional - you won't get a pipe- or cable-lay vessel to run the risks of snags damaging their lifting and lowering equipment without it. You have to (not optional
  • We live on a tiny windy and wet island and still we decide to pay the French and Chinese well over market rate for a NUCLEAR reactor! We have the chance to be self sufficient but apparently that's not desirable... renewables have smaller brown envelopes maybe?
  • The power hub would send electricity over a long-distance cable to the UK and Netherlands, and possibly later to Belgium, Germany, and Denmark.

    International cooperation - nope, that's something that the British government and Brexiting majority would never accept. Gunboats will be dispatched to defend our borders from these filthy foreigners and their disgusting non-1950s stereotype ideas. And we'll man the gunboats with Dad's Army volunteers and get Gibraltar to pay for it!

    (sgd) Swivel-Eyed Loon

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