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'A Breath of Fresh Air': Offshore Wind Power Could Produce More Electricity Than World Uses

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/10/25/breath-fresh-air-offshore-wind-power-could-produce-more-electricity-world-uses


It could produce electricity, and will also destroy many bird species and further industrialize our oceans. Just another technoutopian proposal from a for-profit industry, to further harness the biosphere for human use.
The real solution is to drastically reduce demand for electricity.


O.K. Here goes: “HOW YA GONNA PAY FOR IT?!” (snark)

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A worthy comment BUT that won’t happen given the way of the current world, I’m afraid.

I also think that "industrializing the oceans in this way would be a decent trade-off considering the other options available now.

Yeah, I hear you about the critters being affected but things are just so DAMN complicated in the 21st century; there are no easy answers that are adaptable to make everyone happy…INCLUDING the critters. (By the way, the critters are a higher priority for me than the two-leggeds)


I think Cartoon Donny is going to have to admit that his coastal courses are going miniature and that every hole shall become a windmill hole. Psst, buy hairspray futures in extended hours trading over the weekend–and hopefully orange jumpsuit futures.

Hi, DavidCarson:
Remember all those American wars—and then think back on what nation was providing solar power screens to all kinds of areas of Africa! They certainly helped with the spread of cell phones. People of CA, time for China’s solar screen ideas as you can’t depend on PG&E and SCE for your power.As long as the sun is there, we might as well use it. Thank you China for inventing rather than bombing. : )


Which of you are going with me to row out to one of these German generators that is in eastern Lake Superior ??

Yes, the scheduled work to inspect and repair is Jan. 22, 2021

Expect about 30 mph wind from NW. Ice flows,

I will bring the hot chocolate.
You bring the vodka.

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right, carlmarks - “How ya gonna pay for it?” - Of course, that is the 64[many zeroes] dollar question. It is true that costs for purely electronic devices like computers have gone down and will likely go down further. These have a relatively small material cost and their manufacture can be more easily automated. But large-scale mechanical technology with physical moving parts made of expensive materials like a wind turbine needs has not gone down - in fact, even the copper and other metals has gone up and will probably offset the cost savings in any electronic developments to come. Then there is the question of parts and labor costs for maintenance of mills in the ocean. The mills near us in central NH need 500 gallons of oil apiece for lubrication, which must be changed at certain intervals. That, plus bearings and any other mechanical and electrical failures and accidents must be addressed - including not only the mills themselves but the cables connecting the mills to the mainland. Finally, there is the old bugaboo of intermittent sources like wind and solar; where do you store the energy during insufficient wind? The usual answer is to just feed output into a grid supported by more traditional sources; depending on an intermittent source for more than a fraction of potential grid capacity would be poor judgment. Storing electrical power, if that is proposed, would add another expense, and ideal solutions to large scale electrical energy storage are still far away - also, storing and then retrieving power will always involve losses, since nature’s laws of thermodynamics cannot be repealed.

So you’re against it then?


Bottle: It should be clear from what I wrote that, to me, it doesn’t make sense.

The heavy duty diesel engine has a nephew using natural gas. It will cost money, take time - but - one gen set can provide electricity to a neighborhood easily. Building codes would have to be updated so that when genset power is being used - the furnace, refrigerator and lighting are operable. Gas stoves with electric pilots qualify but I am not sure microwave ovens should, The amp input during regular would be 100 to 200 and cuts down to about 40 when the genset goes on. Inrush current covered by the number of homes, apartments served.
One person maintains 138 natural gas gensets along a gas pipeline over about 110 miles.

Nietzsche posited the primary drive of humans and all living things is the will to power, and that what we call happiness is actually the feeling of our power increasing (i.e. prosperity). While i agree with what you say, historically the above statement has proven true again and again, and is deeply reflected in human civilization. Thus i feel that perhaps there is no solution at all.

Nietzsche may have been right about people afflicted by addictions, attachment problems, and various mental illnesses, but Jung corrected the record. Human nature encompasses a huge range of behaviors, but those conditions can be healed.

" Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other."


It would kill sea and other birds as well.

Another way of saying that is that love is the scaling up of interests, from the individual to the (individual) collective. The scales below will not go away, and they are beautiful, but only awareness of the higher collective being brings healing.

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Wind power is fantastic! Just treat the migrating birds with respect and conservation. Locate these windmills in safe places. This requires time and research- not hastily constructed sites.

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We’ll just have to solve the distribution problem next.


Wrong diacad. Are you suggesting that new plants are free to build or that existing plants don’t need maintenance or that a great many coal fired plants are reaching their ‘use by’ expiration date and will need replacing? I suppose the idea that consumers paying for these plants which will not need constant resupply of fossil fuels ($$$) is like mysterious to you? The cost of resupplying a fossil fuel plant over its lifetime isn’t even in the same league as that of an off shore wind farm. I also didn’t notice you mentioning the cost of building a new fossil fuel plant and a few hundred gallons of lubricating oil is hardly comparable to the millions of barrels currently used.

As to the wind offshore. The operative word is offshore as in the phrase - an offshore wind? Like at the beach? Like that used by seabirds much less than by sailboats. A relatively constant supply of wind that exists just above the sea’s surface in fact would highly mitigate the need for storage and for that matter, tidal energy farms would easily cancel any deficiencies. Oh wait, tidal energy farms would need those bearings again. Oh but we could have saved the planet but for … um? Bearing lube? Um? As far as bearings go? I assume that you do realize that any fossil fuel power plant creates power by using turbines which of course use bearings.

You also seem rather confused as to the difference between offshore bird life and land based ones. By equipping the windmill blades with LED light strips effectively allows the birds to see the vanes better and it is no surprise that fishermen report more bountiful harvests of fish around wind farms almost like artificial reefs etc. Perhaps you think that a wind farm would be located near a sea bird nesting colony? As there are few nesting colonies as compared to open waters, nevertheless 37 miles off shore isn’t exactly all that near but one can imagine that there would hardly be the need to build a wind farm close to a nesting colony anyway.


Yes, all the Koch-Exxon-ALEC-Republican deceptions that ARFs (anti-renewable fanatics) have been spreading for years. diacad uses the usual troll tactics—straw person nonsense and other distraction, cherry picking, outright falsehoods, and more. Whether it’s mostly ignorance or dishonesty is impossible to tell, but in the end it’s both.

Both wind and solar are now cheaper everywhere, without subsidies, than nukes and coal, and cheaper than gas in most places. Fossil and fissile fuel prices are still going up while the levelized cost of wind, solar, geothermal and batteries are all going down—wind and solar down by more than 90% since the 1980s!

Batteries are down 35% just since early last year; wind by 24%; utility solar by 18%. That includes the cost of fuel (where there is any) and maintenance. Most of the existing nukes and coal burners in the US are already losing money, and it’s only getting worse for them. The nuke industry is now trying to get a HUGE ($23 billion) bailout from the US to keep too-expensive, inflexible, democracy-wrecking, unreliable (Need water!) unsafe reactors going instead of getting far more for the money with renewables. And Wow! You see the size of the delays and cost overruns on all those new nukes?

Of course, fossil fuels aren’t even an option any more, if we want civilization to survive.

Offshore wind is now reaching higher capacity factors than coal and gas. (That’s the percent of time it produces at 100% of its rated capacity.) Batteries can increasingly be included at a lower combined cost than fossil or fissile fuels and perform what are known as ancillary services for the grid—frequency regulation, etc. What’s actually charged varies with taxes and pricing programs, but now, where there’s more wind and solar, prices are lower than other sources and still falling rapidly.

With a good mix of dispatchable and variable clean safe renewable sources in a distributed generation grid (varied sources spread widely through different time zones and weather systems) and wise use of demand response techniques, all the energy humanity needs can be provided by clean safe renewable sources at a lower price than today’s energy.

And of course, at the end of a wind (or solar) farm’s life, the parts can mostly be reused or recycled and replaced with far fewer turbines that produce more energy. The first offshore wind farm, for example, was recently retired after 25 years; its 11 turbines produced about 20% of the energy that one new turbine just installed can provide. Even more powerful ones will be operating commercially within a year or 2.

Wind alone could power the world right now…
using only a tiny amount of land and water.

Solar alone could power the world right now,…

using only a tiny amount of land, a lot of which could be roofs, parking lots, reservoirs, and wasteland (like the ever-expanding wrecked land from fossil and fissile fuel mining).

Of course, neither is the smartest way to do it; wind and solar PV are complementary and fit well with dispatchable renewables like hydro and geothermal, concentrated solar, clothesline paradox solar, and small amounts of ocean and biomass energies. Dozens of studies linked to from this comment have shown multiple ways renewables alone can power the world cheaper than today’s energy.

Unless they’re grinding something like flour, wind turbines are not mills.


Let me guess but in another post you (and others) will rail and vent that we only have a dozen years left before disaster sets in? Meanwhile this solution is actually achievable and would very much go a very long ways towards freeing us from fossil fuel use. But then perhaps a little more time researching facts instead of vanity posting so very often (you and others) might help raise the bar of this forum and lessen the sheer number of chummy/chatting posts as opposed to informative or challenging ones.

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