Offshore Wind Power Proposal Rises from the Pacific, and Other Offshore Wind Power Stories in the News

Michael Giberson

Typical offshore wind power projects — actually there are not enough projects in existance to talk about “typical projects”, so let’s say “typical offshore wind power proposals — envision embedding the turbines into the ocean floor. Not a problem off the U.S Atlantic Coast or in the Gulf, where the ocean is relatively shallow for miles in many places. The Pacific Coast is different, dropping off more quickly, and making the installation of a wind turbine embedded into the ocean floor a much more costly project.

Oregonian_image_offshore_wind.jpgA story in The Oregonian reports on a proposal to build a floating wind farm off the Oregon coast. See the image from the story to the left, which illustrates the idea. The floating platforms would be moored to the ocean floor by cables.

[HT to David Roberts at Gristmill. I join him in giving thanks to all quirky entrepreneurs, “who do this kind of crazy sh*t first so the suits can follow in behind.”]

More stories on offshore wind power proposals and projects:

  • New Jersey offshore pilot project: Wind power to light up N.J.. Focus is on alternative proposals seeking a $19 million grant from the NJ Board of Public Utilities.
  • Europe leads the U.S. in offshore wind power development, observes this MarketWatch article, but interest in the U.S. is increasing.
  • From this past July in Der Spiegel: A Green Revolution off Germany’s Coast. About the first German offshore wind power project, which began offshore construction in August. (Weather has delayed progress according to this report by the company. Much more information about the project at that link.)
  • “Britain [has]now overtaken Denmark as the largest producer of offshore wind in the world,” according to a story in the Telegraph: “Wind farms: Britain has enough offshore to provide power to 300,000.”
  • The UK is investing in initiatives to reduce the cost of offshore wind power.
  • Perhaps none too soon for the UK wind industry. According to a report appearing this past Sunday in The Observer, wind power developers are set to report that “planning delays, long delivery times, escalating costs, 10-year hold-ups in connection to the national grid and technical problems in building offshore windfarms all threaten to derail Brown’s ambitions [for renewable power output in 2020].” Actually, according to the article, there may be a way for the industry to help the government achieve its ambitious targets for producing renewable power. All it will take is “a huge injection of public money.”

4 thoughts on “Offshore Wind Power Proposal Rises from the Pacific, and Other Offshore Wind Power Stories in the News

  1. Mike, I’ve been wondering for a while, when an offshore project would be sited encompassing a wind turbine above the surface, ocean wave generator at the surface, and a tidal current turbine, and a geothermal turbine below the sea surface, all sharing the same perimeter space and utiliting the same underwater transmission. Is there anything like this in discussion, are at least a pilot? This could certainly resolve some of the intermittency issue. I’m sure the project would get pricey to site, but from the mid-Atlantic, north to off Cape Cod, seems like all 4 renewable sources would be significant enough in a grand scale, to become economically sustainable with gas generation and demand response as a backup.

  2. Good question. Typically the discussions I’ve seen analyze one technology at a time (or sometimes two, i.e., wind and energy storage), and don’t consider the potential gains from blending projects together. As you note, siting may be an issue. Each of the technologies mentioned are typically just barely economic if at all when placed in ideal sites. Finding a site with overlapping high quality wind, wave, tidal, and geothermal resources would be quite difficult. But the potential values you point out may make it worth looking for such sites, or considering the possibility of drawing on multiple resource bases.

    Just for an example, once you place a wind turbine tower offshore, how hard can it be to add a ocean wave generator to the site? All the power collection infrastructure would already be in place, as would the fixed anchor for the wave generator.

    Worth exploring.

    -Mike

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