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Offshore Windpower To Potentially Exceed US Demand

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the yo-ho-and-blow-the-man-down dept.

Power 679

SpuriousLogic writes to mention that a new Interior Department report suggests that wind turbines off US coastlines could supply enough electricity to meet, or exceed, the nation's current demand. While a good portion of this is easily accessible through shallow water sites, the majority of strong wind resources appear to be in deep water which represents a significant technological hurdle. "Salazar told attendees at the 25x'25 Summit in Virginia, a gathering of agriculture and energy representatives exploring ways to cut carbon dioxide emissions, that "we are only beginning to tap the potential" of offshore renewable energy. The report is a step in the Obama administration's mission to chart a course for offshore energy development, an issue that gained urgency last year amid high oil prices and chants of 'Drill, baby, drill' at the Republican National Convention."

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There's wind in them thar.... oceans? (5, Interesting)

Hoyty1 (1502645) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449535)

So when can I purchase my chunk of the ocean to erect my power plant?

Re:There's wind in them thar.... oceans? (4, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449633)

I'm sure there are laws about international waters, but does the closest state own the rights to waters offshore? Could they issue "property taxes" to windmills offshore? And how to they determine who has first dibs to build things at sea?

Re:There's wind in them thar.... oceans? (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449677)

Not only that...I'd hope we'd NOT try to put all our country's energy eggs in this one basket.

talk about single point of failure. If another country (or terrorist) wanted to seriously hurt the US, they'd just have to target a broad swath of these offshore windmills. A pretty easy target I'd think?

Much like computer systems...I'd like to see a heterogeneous solution....windmills, nukes...and perhaps some legacy fossil fuel plants and a backup.

Re:There's wind in them thar.... oceans? (4, Interesting)

tripdizzle (1386273) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450119)

Hopefully our politicians are as forward thinking as you. One of the reasons we need to do this is so that we can save our fossil fuels for when they are absolutely necessary. I don't think we will ever be able to run a tank or a fighter jet off of electricity alone.

Re:There's wind in them thar.... oceans? (5, Insightful)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450157)

If another country (or terrorist) wanted to seriously hurt the US, they'd just have to target a broad swath of these offshore windmills. A pretty easy target I'd think?

This is a pretty weak argument when you consider that we have the Coast Guard, the largest Navy in the world, and the most advanced monitoring of our coasts. Not to mention the sheer size of the United States and the fact that these windmills could be deployed on two different oceans. We are not talking 100 Windmills here. Also, I am sure the military will find a way to make these Windmills useful to our national defense. I doubt missiles, but those poor whales are probably gonna have more sonar pollution.

Re:There's wind in them thar.... oceans? (4, Informative)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449703)

I'm sure there are laws about international waters, but does the closest state own the rights to waters offshore?

Yep, they're called Territorial Waters [wikipedia.org] . And a country's Exclusive Economic Zone [wikipedia.org] ends 200 nautical miles from shore (with some exceptions).

Not so much when... (1)

jnetsurfer (637137) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449715)

No so much when as where? "Certainly not in my backyard! What an eyesore..."

Re:Not so much when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27449835)

I don't understand the NIMBY complaints from people. I think windmill farms are elegant and peaceful to watch.

Re:Not so much when... (1)

Bruiser80 (1179083) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449889)

Apparently the Kennedys don't agree :-)

Makes me wonder about cabling (3, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449585)

Undersea cables are a notoriously problematic thing, and a wind farm is going to be running lots of live power back to shore. Would cut cables endanger sea life? If so, to what extent? It may not sound like a big deal on a one-off basis, but if you have thousands of these things surrounding the continental shelf, this could seriously impact the viability of our coastal wildlife populations, no?

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449725)

And here, the parent illustrates why this will never happen.

Years and years in environmental impact studies, many more years of court battles, then the legislatures and Congress stepping in to support the NIMBY positions of their constituents.

To make this happen, Barry will have to wield near dictatorial powers and sweep aside most of the legal avenues people have to fight against something like this if they disagree.

Hmmm...Barry? Dictatorial powers?

Maybe we will have wind farms after all.

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (0, Troll)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449985)

Republican much?

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (3, Funny)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449999)

Rush ??? is that you ??

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (3, Insightful)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450011)

You're going to have a choice of what to put in your collective backyards:
Nuclear power stations, which cause cancer when they go wrong.
Coal power stations, which cause cancer.
Or wind turbines which ... go round and round.

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (5, Informative)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450183)

Considering how uncommon it is for anything serious to go wrong in a nuclear power plant, I don't see how this is a hard choice.

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (4, Insightful)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450021)

Years and years in environmental impact studies, many more years of court battles, then the legislatures and Congress stepping in to support the NIMBY positions of their constituents.

No, you just need a powerful Senator:

Kennedy doesn't play by the rules [boston.com]

Short version: a proposed wind farm off Cape Cod was torpedoed by Kennedy with a poison-pill amendment to a bill. It wasn't just his constituent's backyard: it was his backyard.

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449837)

Will there even be enough copper available to distribute it? These aren't data cables, they're power cables.

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27450065)

Most transmission cables *today* are not made from copper.

Aluminum is a fair substitute (you just need 25% wider diameters -- actually less weight), and the price of aluminum is closely linked to the price of electricity anyway: if electricity becomes too expensive to produce aluminum, we won't need as much to distribute it.

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449853)

eh? there are many high voltage undersea cables more than a hundred miles long all over the world. done deal, mature technology. and also, you do realize all those nifty fiber optic lines we're using here on the global internet have HVDC cables in them too?

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (2, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449913)

I almost forgot. They have these nifty little things called CIRCUT BREAKERS that can deal with cut cables.

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449959)

Don't worry, it won't happen (let's be honest)

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450091)

I think it's viable if properly implemented( ie not politically of economically motivated ala challenger launch).

a.) The farms would have to distributed to allow redundancy.

b.) This would be an excellent application for nano tube super conductors. It would also require significant shielding.

c.) It would also have to be on a computer controlled redundant grid.

I keep thinking of the power lines in the matrix.

Re:Makes me wonder about cabling (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450167)

You cant have it 2 ways.

There is always a trade off. The chance of zapping sea life is there but I think making the USA energy independent has more advantage.

   

So we're in international waters? (1)

notarockstar1979 (1521239) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449593)

Hey, guess what you're accessories to?

Re:So we're in international waters? (1)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449983)

Funny reference. But no, not international waters.

Unexpected impact? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27449605)

So what happens if we start taking a large percentage of world energy requirements from wind power... Will we inadvertently cause a change in the weather through reduced windspeeds?

Re:Unexpected impact? (2, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449693)

Yes. But the effect of erecting cities is far larger.

Re:Unexpected impact? (3, Informative)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449801)

No.
A decent weather system churns terawatts around.
We'll only tap surface winds and they're a very small fraction of total wind energy.

Re:Unexpected impact? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450061)

No, we'll end up with longer days because they'll slow down spin-rate of the Earth.

Maybe we should test it first? (2, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449613)

Does it seem premature to declare this the savior of our energy troubles before you have even put up a single test/prototype site? What are the technical hurdles? How do you transmit the power from the middle of the ocean to Kansas efficiently? What happens in rough seas? Land based wind power has been hamstrung by NIMBY folks blocking all attempts to build high tension transmission wires from the windmills to the population centers already, and the land there is mostly large commercial farms. I can't imagine how much worse it would be over the highly populated coastlines.

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (0, Redundant)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449647)

Huh.

Large valuable floating masses of copper and other metals in international waters. Either lightly guarded-- or a large ongoing cost for security.

A critical part of the nations electrical generation in international waters.

Makes sense to me!

What could go wrong?

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (5, Informative)

lupine (100665) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449897)

We don't need to send power from the coast to Kansas. Coastal areas are heavily populated and so the power will not need to travel very far to be used effectively. Kansas is a windy place, they will have their own land-based turbines.

These wind farms would not be in international waters. They would be on the continental shelf which are by definition national waters. We already patrol and scan these areas for evil dooers.

Electrical cables for wind farms would be more distributed and harder to disrupt than the current system of power plants.

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (1, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449909)

how are the terrorists going to take out dozens of square miles of windmills and undersea HVDC cables, even a large nuke is too small for the job. We have the small attractive targets NOW with our current way of producing half the nations electricity.

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450131)

Not terrorists, pirates.

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (1)

whiledo (1515553) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449933)

Where in the article does it say they'd be in international waters [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449953)

I'm no wind power fan, but can't this same argument be made against our current offshore oil platforms?

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449995)

The best thing about thieves who go for charged high-power lines is the "ZZT" sound they make.

No saviors being nominated (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449925)

Does it seem premature to declare this the savior of our energy troubles before you have even put up a single test/prototype site?

Did you miss the part where they said "potentially"? I haven't heard anybody proclaiming that all our energy and greenhouse gas problems are over.

The fact remains that there's a lot of free energy out there. In theory you could provide our entire energy budget a thousand times over from any one of several renewable resources: wind, tides, geothermal, solar. But in order to tap resources properly (as opposed to the puny projects we've done to date) we have to solve big problems. Did I say big? Enormous, gigantic, titanic. There isn't an adjective that really describes how difficult this is.

But that's all the more reason to play up the enormous amount of energy available this way. If big huge problems can only be solved with big expensive projects. You're not going to get anybody, public or private, to invest the enormous sums required unless there's hope of enormous return.

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (1)

johnsonav (1098915) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449943)

How do you transmit the power from the middle of the ocean to Kansas efficiently?

You don't. The article states that a vast majority of electricity consumption in the US takes place in the coastal states. Think of the large coastal population centers: NYC, LA, Boston, Seattle, SF, etc. If we can power those areas with ocean wind, we've tremendously reduced our fossil fuel consumption, even if Kansas is still burning coal.

Re:Maybe we should test it first? (2, Insightful)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449979)

Kansas is right in the middle of tornado alley, along with Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, and parts of other surrounding states. There'd be no need to send wind power from the coast all the way to the middle of the country because it's plenty windy enough out here in the midwest as it is.

Float it (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449615)

It seems to me that floating platforms would be cheaper and easier to make and maintain than anything anchored to the sea floor. I wouldn't know where to begin, but I find it hard to believe engineers haven't already got it worked out.

Re:Float it (3, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449645)

The obvious problem would be how do you keep it from floating away? I know. We could put an engine on it to counter the push of the wind. The beauty of it is that this engine could be POWERED by the wind.

No, I have never heard of the laws of thermodynamics? Why do you ask?

Re:Float it (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450055)

Ever heard of tacking?

Re:Float it (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450201)

So, essentially, you would have to move your blades in such a way as to not be totally perpendicular to the wind for the majority of the time. This leads to less than optimal power generation. Then you will need some kind of computer to tack effectively given position and wind angle and speed. out how to tack effectively to keep Then, you would have to hope you don't have ocean currents to deal with.

And keep in mind that you are likely tethered by the cable to transmit the power.

Sounds a whole lot less efficient than just tethering the thing in the first place.

Re:Float it (2, Informative)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450099)

They'd likely moor them to the seabed the way they do with offshore oil-drilling platforms.

Re:Float it (1)

Liath (950770) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449711)

better yet, use a floating bob's motion instead of the wind-turbine.

Re:Float it (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449753)

Floating wind turbines [statoilhydro.com] . (The project has progressed a bit since then, but I needed an English-language link, and that is what Google gave me.)

Not what gp asked (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449923)

FTL: "The floatation element will have a draft of some 100 metres below the sea surface, and will be moored to the seabed using three anchor points"

Floating Cities (5, Interesting)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449621)

I would love to see a future where rich libertarians build floating cities free of the governmental restraints and constraints of the pandering politicians. Live free on the water! No taxes. Everything accomplished by contract. It's like a paradise *sigh*

Re:Floating Cities (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449685)

I would love to see a future where rich libertarians build floating cities free of the governmental restraints and constraints of the pandering politicians. Live free on the water! No taxes. Everything accomplished by contract. It's like a paradise *sigh*

That is until you're voted off the island.

Yes, please! (3, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449687)

We can make up for the lost tax revenue by selling them toilet paper at a 1000% mark up.

Re:Floating Cities (1)

jnetsurfer (637137) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449773)

Like this [wired.com] ?

Re:Floating Cities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27450151)

or this? [seasteading.org]

Re:Floating Cities (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449843)

They should name it "Rapture."

Re:Floating Cities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27449939)

Why not build it under the water for secretsy and they could call it Rapture

Re:Floating Cities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27450035)

Maybe paradise for lawyers.

It would last about as long as it took for people to start charging money for crossing their lawn or using their private road, or shooting anyone that tried.

Re:Floating Cities (1)

saiha (665337) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450093)

Rapture

Re:Floating Cities (2, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450101)

Well except the fact you're completely isolated and have to pay massive amounts of money to get anything you want. I personally don't find politicians more onerous than having no easy access to a grocery or hardware store. But I'm also not an idio... errr... libertarian.

Ships (1)

Concormorant (1523817) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449625)

Ok, there are hundreds of huge transport ships idling off the coasts of Asian cities, right? Why not just put wind turbines all over them and park them 20 miles off the US coast?

Yeah yeah, heard it all before (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449631)

"The biggest wind potential lies off the nation's Atlantic coast, which the Interior report estimates could produce 1,000 gigawatts of electricity ..." ...when the wind's blowing. Unfortunately being somewhat fickle it doesn't always do that and when it doesn't you need backup generators. In fact you'd need to backup ALL the wind power generators with equal rating backup systems and since these would probably coal and/or nuclear which can't be started up and shut down on a whim and so need to run 24/7 anyway it makes a mockery of the whole enviromental argument for wind.

And thats before you get into power transmission issues - windy sites generally arn't near big cities.

Re:Yeah yeah, heard it all before (2, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449749)

That's why I don't buy the idea of one centralized generation facility. I like the idea of home based generation. A small wind turbine, solar cells, etc. on each home that generates enough electricity for the home and feeds excess to a national grid. Of course, the grid would need some changes to make it "safe" to transport electricity from homes in California to Kansas if it were needed for some reason.

Re:Yeah yeah, heard it all before (3, Interesting)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450085)

The congressional budget office studied exactly this (distributed generation) in 2003 after the blackout, and determined that there would be significant economic and infrastructural benefits from such a system - it would, however, require a significant overhaul of our existing grid to control all the variable power being added. In the end, it's been largely ignored, Heaven knows why. There are a lot of merits to a system like this, among them energy independence, as well as infrastructure security. If each city block or even city for that matter is generating its own power, how can you attack that infrastructure on a national scale?

Re:Yeah yeah, heard it all before (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449869)

If you have a decent HVDC network the short term variability evens out. A new HVDC grid is a requirement for all new energy schemes.

Re:Yeah yeah, heard it all before (1)

insane_membrane (1366135) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450067)

Nukes take a little while to bring up (days), but coal can be started within a day, AFAIR.

Re:Yeah yeah, heard it all before (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450127)

In fact you'd need to backup ALL the wind power generators with equal rating backup systems and since these would probably coal and/or nuclear which can't be started up and shut down on a whim and so need to run 24/7 anyway it makes a mockery of the whole enviromental argument for wind.

Yeah, those darn nuclear reactors produce so much CO2 and other pollutants that... oh wait.

No Problem! (2, Informative)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449635)

We can just build our wind turbines on that conveniently located plastic garbage island floating around in the middle of the pacific! I'll be auctioning off parcels next week on eBay. Be sure to bid early and bid often!

A question for someone in the know... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449643)

We've seen a number of these farms out there already elsewhere. I'm just wondering what the realistic lifespan of a windmill of this nature is and how many are normally down for any number of reasons at a time?

Re:A question for someone in the know... (1)

jnetsurfer (637137) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449791)

Yeah, salt water can be very tough on the components, I would suspect!

Demand will simply increase to match supply (0)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449655)

e.g.

Everyone has a car... No... TWO cars. Not only cars, but Hummers, because normal cars are just too efficient. Which is going to be "interesting" when people start choosing between NPK and fuel for their SUV.

 

Wave power (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449705)

it works in any depth.

Beamed microwave and fusion to exceed US demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27449719)

The only problem left to solve is all of them.

What offshore wind power? Try congress & the f (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27449765)

Wasn't there a physicist who did an analysis of various power sources and costs recently? He said that we could only get about 20% from wind power. And that Nuclear is the cheapest source.

"the nation's current demand" ... brutal! (2, Funny)

Filter (6719) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449769)

That is just awful.

It's about time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27449795)

The United States has a 200 mile sovereign jurisdiction on our oceans. It's about time they use it for something!

The problem with wind (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449799)

Wind power has a severe problem - uncontrolled availability.

Don't get me wrong - there are lots of things "right" about wind power. It's perhaps the cheapest form of "alternative" electrical power. Windmills are easy to design, and don't require expensive, polluting labs to build. Parts are readily available, and they are the only form of electrical power that's profitable today without strong tax subsidies.

But the wind blows when it wants to, not just when you need the power. For this reason, you can't supply more than about 10-20% of a given power grid directly from wind power - it destabilizes the power grid. Wind dies down, suddenly you have a brown out. Then you get hit by a strong gust, and you're blowing fuses left and right.

But, off on the horizon, there's a new economy a-brewin' that's been talked about for years. And I'm not 100% sure it will actually take off, but I have my hopes: the hydrogn economy.

If, instead of directly providing electricity to the grid, we used wind energy to build up our hydrogen supply, then suddenly things start to make sense! Hydrogen can be burned when needed, and stored (fairly) cheaply when not. Sure, it's not as efficient as direct feed, but you're going to need *something* to power all those cars, and batteries aren't any more efficient than a hydrogen system, at significantly greater cost!

Re:The problem with wind (2, Insightful)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449879)

Ahh, but if you have enough wind turbines distributed over large and varied areas (East, west, and gulf coasts), I'd think that you'd never have a situation where all such areas were becalmed.

Just have to go massively parallel... heck a Beowulf cluster :p

To me, the idea of such a massive amount of clean power would make some of these "hydrogen economy" ideas feasable.

Of course, being a programmer, I have a "belt and suspenders" mentality too: so go for lots of really big solar farms too, just to cover the bases.

Intriguing at any rate.

Re:The problem with wind (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449945)

If, instead of directly providing electricity to the grid, we used wind energy to build up our hydrogen supply, then suddenly things start to make sense! Hydrogen can be burned when needed, and stored (fairly) cheaply when not. Sure, it's not as efficient as direct feed, but you're going to need *something* to power all those cars, and batteries aren't any more efficient than a hydrogen system, at significantly greater cost!

I guess that makes sense, in the respect that you find a way to store the energy. Still, hydrogen is dangerous stuff, and I wouldn't want to live near any kind of large storage facility

Hydrogen...really just energy storage (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450057)

The point of hydrogen is just energy storage. I used to be a fan of hydrogen, but in the end it is just too hard to transport. However, there are lots of potential chemical reactions that could be used for energy storage, for example, there have been various proposals using aluminum.

The biggest problem is sheer scale: it's all well and good to say we'll store hydrogen/aluminum/whatever for when the wind isn't blowing, you then need full-capacity power plants to convert the hydrogen/aluminum/whatever back into electricity. So: you have to build two power plants, not just one, plus the transport infrastructure. Expensive!

Great Idea! (-1, Flamebait)

ChinaLumberjack (1443691) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449827)

Let's build these million dollar pieces of equipment in inaccessible areas with extreme weather conditions. How could this go wrong?

Re:Great Idea! (4, Funny)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449951)

What, you mean like the million dollar oil rigs which get placed in all sorts of extreme situations?

Don't Hold Your Breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27449829)

The only energy sources environmentalists like are those that are hopelessly impractical and expensive. If this proves feasible, they'll oppose it.

About birds. (5, Insightful)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449839)

Just to cut off this dead birds argument before it starts... I know a guy that runs some wind farms in Cali here (the livermore ones) and as a test they decided to shut off one half of their farm for a month and see the difference in birds killed.

They found like 4 dead birds in the field where they were off and around 8 dead birds where they were on. So each half of the farm might kill an extra 4 birds a month versus having standing towers. That's 96 birds a year for a very large windfarm.

You know what kills WAY more birds than that per year? Housecats. Example quote from some government study in the UK:

"In 1990, researchers estimated that "outdoor" house cats and feral cats were responsible for killing nearly 78 million small mammals and birds annually in the United Kingdom."

full link: http://library.fws.gov/Bird_Publications/songbrd.html [fws.gov]

My mom's house also has a large window that kills a few birds a year, I'm sure for every house and building that adds up.

Point being, winds farms have effectively NO impact on birds! Thanks

-Taylor

Re:About birds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27450053)

Perhaps it might be interesting to see the kind of bird killed by each thing. It might very likely be that big towers kill eagles, and cats kill small birds. So, it might not extinct all bird species, but just a few.

Re:About birds. (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450087)

As you point out the bird kill is a non issue, older ones did, but not modern ones. That aside when I am hunting I do my best to solve the feral cat problem as does the rest of my party as feral cats do do a lot of damage to wild bird populations. There was even a debate in Wisconsin a couple of years ago about legally allowing hunters to shoot them. In Minnesota there isn't a season on feral cat nor are they a protected species so you are free to dispatch them.

Re:About birds. (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450103)

I agree.

Tall buildings in general kill birds, and cities are particularly bad. There was a push back when I lived in Chicago to turn off lights in buildings to mitigate the impact on migratory bird populations.

Its impossible to live without having an effect on your environment. We should be weighing the costs and benefits of our impact rather than chasing the impossible dream of zero-impact. A few extra birds killed per month is an acceptable trade-off for renewable energy.

Re:About birds. (2, Insightful)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450129)

Since when is double == none?

Re:About birds. (1)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450173)

2 x 0 = 0

Re:About birds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27450191)

I thought that there was more of a problem with bats, as there is a substantial pressure drop after the blade and this can cause severe lung damage in bats, but not birds as their lung structure is different. I guess the relevant question is how many bats die from this and whether is it a significant proportion of local bat populations. Obviously not much of a problem in the ocean though.

The maps are interesting (5, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449847)

For just the US: http://www.bergey.com/Maps/USA.Wind.Lg.htm [bergey.com] For the world: http://www.bergey.com/Maps/World.Wind.Lg.htm [bergey.com]

interesting indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27450117)

Why is the US map all white (no white) right in the Florida/Texas/South area?

So, CNN is really making all these Hurricanes up?

As long as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27449915)

big, bloated pus-bags like Walter Cronkite, Ted "the swimmer" Kennedy and other coastal-snobs are in the mix these projects will always be blocked. After all, you're despoiling their playground.

Yeah, but... (1)

jonlandrum (937349) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449961)

There's more energy on this planet than we've fully realized. Think about the how much it takes to pick the entire ocean up three meters and set it back down twice a day. There are more carbon-killers here to be tapped than just solar and wind, though these are two good ones.

Sounds great (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449975)

This sounds great what we really need is to get as much power as possible. With cheep almost inexhaustible power lots of other problems go away. Along with developing wind I think all power generation is worthy of looking at like solar, hydro, geothermal, nuclear, and yes even fossil fuel. I say start building now. This would be a real stimulus that actually would provide a return on investment. The main problem is getting the political will to do so. I imagine that this will be much like the nuclear plant debate here in Minnesota where we have a law specifically banning nuclear plants and no political will to change it

Of course this topic will inevitably turn into the standard flame war of it's intermittent, you can't store electricity, and what not. But with the other smart grid technologies that are being discussed these things become less of a concern.

What about climate change? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#27449977)

The source of Wind turbine's power is neither unlimited, nor free — it is just largely untapped. Enough turbines will alter climates along the coasts (and deeper inland) will weaken the winds and thus change, for example, the rainfall amounts...

Has anybody thought of that? It will also be a hazard to navigation, but that, probably, is easier to solve...

Re:What about climate change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27450147)

Sorry, but that is just too fucking stupid to comment on. No wait, the friction from the bearings in the rotors will generated enough heat to raise coastal temps. Jeez, where do you people come from.

off-shore power (3, Interesting)

secPM_MS (1081961) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450005)

While the near-shore environment is reasonably suited to cables, the cost of long distance power transmission in the deep ocean environment may be problematic. This suggests that the power be stored into some transmissible fuel that can be picked up intermittently. One possibility would be Ammonia, NH3, which could be made by electrolysis of water to get the Hydrogen and nitrogen from the atmosphere. The heat of formation of NH3 is ~ 10% of the available energy in the Hydrogen (liquefying Hydrogen requires ~ 30%). Anhydrous ammonia is easily handled at moderate pressures in steel vessels, has a higher volumetric density than liquid Hydrogen, could be easily handled by tankers, and the Hydrogen can be easily released at moderate temperatures by catalytic reforming. Spills of NH3 are limited by its high solubility in water and lack of persistence - plants metabolize it rapidly.

International Water (0, Redundant)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450051)

So ... how exactly are we going to overcome the whole "International Waters" problem? Specifically, the areas with the largest amount of wind power are the same areas that the United States, China, and Russia could all conceivably lay claim to.

Re:International Water (1)

Tryle (1159503) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450165)

We will arm our windmills with frikkin' laser beams of course.

Is This A Problem Somehow? (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#27450155)

I don't see anything wrong with building enough wind infrastructure to exceed demand. My understanding is that you can turn off a turbine if you don't need it, or if conditions aren't right, or if you need to work on it. It really isn't that often that we have a foresight in the US to build something robust enough to have some redundancy available for those types of situations.

Tidal Wave or Attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27450185)

We should use a variety of methods to derive alternative energy and in a variety of locations, otherwise, we risk disaster. Imagine if a tidal wave or surprise attack hit this infrastructure. The country would collapse before we could respond. We need to make sure we use many methods in many locations. This is not only safer, but because of the energy loss when power it sent over a distance it is more efficient to have local sources.

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