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Power Science

Optimize Offshore Wind Farms Using Weather Modeling 111

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a Stanford news release: "Politics aside, most energy experts agree that cheap, clean, renewable wind energy holds great potential to help the world satisfy energy needs while reducing harmful greenhouse gases. Wind farms placed offshore could play a large role in meeting such challenges, and yet no offshore wind farms exist today in the United States. In a study just published in Geophysical Research Letters, a team of engineers at Stanford has harnessed a sophisticated weather model to recommend optimal placement of four interconnected wind farms off the coast of the Eastern United States, a region that accounts for 34 percent of the nation’s electrical demand and 35 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. ... Among its findings, the Stanford model recommended a farm in Nantucket Sound, precisely where the controversial Cape Wind farm has been proposed. The Cape Wind site is contentious because, opponents say, the tall turbines would diminish Nantucket’s considerable visual appeal. By that same token, the meteorological model puts two sites on Georges Bank, a shallows located a hundred miles offshore, far from view in an area once better known for its prodigious quantities of cod. The fourth site is off central Long Island."
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Optimize Offshore Wind Farms Using Weather Modeling

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  • by vikingpower ( 768921 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @06:06PM (#39419945) Homepage Journal
    You can't have pristine landscapes, a non-petrol economy AND several kilowatts of electric power at your fingertips, to be switched on whenever you come home. We here in Europe are making choices. We know we have to. So will you, so will you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @06:22PM (#39420105)

    "As I understand it, the problem with offshore wind is not the weather, but the insanely high costs of maintenance."

    Will it need thousands of armed people spending a trillion in foreign lands?

  • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @06:40PM (#39420311)
    Yep. Without subsidies, wind is not economically viable at present -- probably never will be. A lot of people are making good money from the subsidies right now, including even (in Europe) being paid not to operate the farms.

    What people seem to forget is that this was also politically-fashionable in the 80's for a while too, there's plenty of rusting turbine hulks in California and Hawaii -- albeit of less efficient machines. When wind finally runs out of subsidies, it will die another death -- just like the last time.

    There are better, more efficient, sustainable sources of energy out there. Just all the money's being wasted on wind right now, because that's where the free lunch is. This is not a good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @07:00PM (#39420551)

    Not sure which better, more sustainable things there are. Solar? Nuclear? We've already damned up just about every river, so there's not much more hydro to utilize.

    Sources I know about: coal, natural gas, oil, hydro, geo-thermal, nuclear, solar - both mirror based and "traditional" solar cell based, wind. Feel free to supply any I've forgotten.

    Coal, even "clean" coal is generally looked at as a dirty energy source. We're about tapped out on Hydro, far as I know, and it has significant environmental impacts. I'm not sure where we are on geo-thermal or what the environmental impacts are with this. Natural gas is fairly abundant, but there are grave concerns about the new fracking processes being employed, and the fact that the companies don't even have to disclose the "secret" chemical soups they're using. Oil is environmentally, monetarily, politically costly, and costly in human lives. Nuclear has potential - it's not renewable, but it provides a lot of energy per plant. Of course, the downsides are fairly well publicized.

    That leaves us with solar, which, if I'm not mistaken, costs more than wind. On the other hand, in the deserts of Eastern CA and Nevada, it's at least a more predictable energy source than wind. It also has the potential of storing some of its energy via large vats of liquid salt so, with more $$$, it can even generate energy at night. I wouldn't say that acres of land devoted to mirrors and a tower is any more unsightly than a mere tower with propellers, but that's just me. At least the sites are not located where many people are likely to be situated.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @07:26PM (#39420807) Homepage

    You're being sarcastic, I know. But the parent has a point. Maintenance via engineering and technicians is far cheaper than boots on the ground halfway around the world. The hazards are far worse too.

    The reality is that the day of cheap energy in the form of BTUs are over. We can bitch moan and complain all we want. The party was fun while it lasted. Sobering up to reality is the part that sucks.

    My advice. Start getting used to leaving your windows open. Soon you'll find that running your AC gets expensive. Driving too. I'd like to plant a victory garden myself, but these days that will land you in jail. Fun times ahead.

  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @08:27PM (#39421463)

    The base load problem is a myth. It's an artifact of the fact that today, renewables are a small fraction of the total power stream. If you have a diverse enough set of large enough, widely-spaced enough power sources, you can ensure that at least a few are producing enough power to run the country. Any minor gaps can be filled in by voluntary demand reduction and intermittent / pumped hydro.

  • by Bomazi ( 1875554 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @08:37PM (#39421555)

    Yes you can. It is called nuclear energy.

  • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @08:53PM (#39421723)

    Actually, running your AC is about a perfect application for solar PV. You need it most when the Sun is shining the hardest.

  • by Dr. Tom ( 23206 ) <> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:19PM (#39421965) Homepage

    The interstate highway system wouldn't have been built without govt money, but I think people find it useful now. Once there are enough turbines generating power people will probably forget who built the farms, like they seem to forget who built the roads, and the sewers, and GPS, and etc., etc.
    Just because it's costing taxpayer money now doesn't make it bad. Not to mention that apparently the oil industry is still getting handouts from the govt which they don't need.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @10:19PM (#39422439) Journal

    The problem is simply this.....electric cars don't work, they aren't economically feasible ATM. Even with government subsidies the Volt is over $40,000 and i bet if you look the biggest use of gasoline is the working poor who sure as hell can't afford to get rid of that 99 Explorer they have paid for for some vehicle that costs $40k and will need the $17k+ batteries replaced in less than 7 years without the vehicle being stowed in a garage (which most poor don't got).

    And please don't bring up public transport because 1.-in many areas like pretty much the entire rural states it simply doesn't exist and wouldn't be economically feasible to build, and 2.-Buses quickly become overrun with the scummiest of the scum so nobody wants to ride them. i know in my home state I'd rather ride on a prison bus than take public transport, at least the prison bus has armed guards.

    so you are looking at a couple of choices, you 1.-pay trillions in taxes to give the masses electric cars AND you pay trillions to replace the batteries they can't afford when they die, or 2.-you pay trillions for public transport AND trillions more in both security and in keeping lines in rural areas open. Since neither of these will actually be possible thanks to the states being broke and the majority of a certain party signing Grover Norquist's 'No new taxes on teh rich EVAR!" pledge I simply do not see how non fossil fuels are suppose to replace boots on the ground in either the short OR the medium term. Doesn't mean we shouldn't be paying for research, after all some scientist may come up with a super cheap battery tech that will make it work, but right now the math just doesn't compute, sorry.

  • by mathmathrevolution ( 813581 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @12:07AM (#39423159)

    First, many people can afford a 100% electric vehicle right now and never pay another dime for gas to commute to work. The Zero XU [] has a removable battery that I can use to charge at work and at home. The range is sufficient for me to get to work on a single charge. It only costs $0.16 per charge and that's 16 cents that I won't even be paying since I'm going to charge it under my desk at work. The total cost for the bike is less than $8K and it is available for purchase right now.

    Second, the ARPA-e independently validated Lithium Ion breakthrough [] is going to be commercialized in a few years and then Electric cars are going to really be into play for all classes of vehicles including trucks.

  • You can't have pristine landscapes, a non-petrol economy AND several kilowatts of electric power at your fingertips, to be switched on whenever you come home. We here in Europe are making choices. We know we have to. So will you, so will you.

    Of course you can have all of those things.


  • by Scareduck ( 177470 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @02:28AM (#39423905) Homepage Journal

    If there were a real business case for this, we would already be switching over to it.

    This is no "myth", it is a real consequence of energy diffuseness and intermittance. All pitches for renewables for baseload always end in the punchline, "And we could do it today, if only we find the political will." N.b., the key word "political". That is, the author wishes to force their ineffective, uneconomic solution upon everyone else.

    Hidden from view, of course, is the fact that switching to these energy sources will impoverish anyone dumb enough to use them.

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!