Guest blog by S. A. Shelley Californians do not need big and very expensive offshore floating wind farms. In fact, nobody needs big and very expensive offshore floating wind farms. Fixed offshore wind farms started out very expensive, requiring significant government subsidies, but small. They have since matured to allow for big inexpensive offshore wind farms with no government subsidies of any kind. The latest fixed offshore wind farms are producing and supplying electricity to their grids at a cost competitive rate compared to the current supply, and this is a result of technological evolution, improved execution strategies and increasing turbine size (power output). However, floating offshore wind technology is still in the nascent, small and heavily subsidized phase of the technology lifecycle. Yet, for some reason, various consortia are pitching huge floating wind farms right off the bat to California. That’s a big problem and folks in California need to watch that they do not get forced to subsidize those projects.
Last month OWOE introduced a new tool that can be used to quickly design a floating platform for real world offshore wind and oil and gas production platforms and estimate its final cost.
In another small but important step forward for offshore wind development in the United States, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., or LEEDCo, began testing the soils at the bottom of Lake Erie. The tests and drilling for soil samples are being done at the six sites where LEEDCo has proposed locating turbines for an offshore wind pilot project. The sites are eight to 10 miles offshore, northwest of downtown Cleveland. Results will help answer the question of what kind of soil lies below the sandy lake bottom and will enable engineers to design the foundations for the turbines. Continue reading Drilling for wind in Lake Erie
As reported in the Providence Journal and AP News – Deepwater Wind on Sunday installed the first foundation for the five-turbine wind farm it’s building in waters off Block Island, Rhode Island. In a process mirroring that used to install offshore drilling platforms, the Weeks 533, the largest barge mounted revolving crane on the East Coast, lifted the 440-ton steel jacket off its transport barge and slowly lowered it to the sea floor. Steel piles will be driven through the hollow tubular legs of the jacket to secure it firmly to the seafloor, and wind turbines will ultimately be installed on top of the jacket.
The wind farm is the first to be constructed in the United States and is expected to be operational in the third quarter of 2016. Company, industry, and government officials as well as environmental agency leaders hailed this as an important step in the development of a new industry.
As reported in the Guardian on July 10, unusually high winds allowed Denmark to meet all of its electricity needs – with plenty to spare for Germany, Norway and Sweden. On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines during the evening. By 3am, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%. Interconnectors allowed all of the power surplus to be shared between Germany, Norway, and Sweden.
Although Denmark is a small country relative to the United States with significantly higher wind energy potential per capita, it is still a significant achievement that demonstrates to the rest of the world that a 100% renewable electrical power system is achievable.
For more information, see theguardian: Denmark Wind Energy.