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Science & Technology

Could floating wind farms power the planet ?

By T.K. Randall
October 10, 2017 · Comment icon 23 comments

Is this the future of electricity generation ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Kim Hansen
Scientists believe that wind farms in the North Atlantic could provide enough electricity to power the world.
Floating wind farms could one day help to provide the majority of the world's power, that is, at least, according to a new paper published this week which claims that ocean-based wind farms are capable of producing three times as much electricity as land-based sites.

Until now, wind turbines placed at sea have had to be anchored to the sea floor, but with the advent of floating turbines it will become possible to place much larger wind farms further away from the shore.

One of the plans considered for the study describes a wind farm covering 70,000 sq km of the North Atlantic with the capacity to power the entire United States for ten months of the year.

Set up enough such sites, scientists argue, and it may even be possible to power the whole world.
The first ever floating wind farm, which is known as Hywind, is currently being constructed off the coast of Scotland and is set to begin commercial production before the end of the year.

Capable of generating electricity for 20,000 households, the project, if successful, could pave the way for much larger floating wind farms in the future and offer a means with which to replace conventional fossil-fuel based power plants with renewable energy on a much wider scale.

"This is an industry in its birth stage," said study co-author Ken Caldeira. "It really does look like the open-ocean environment can sustain a lot more power generation than on land."

"But making these technologies cheap enough to compete will be challenging."

Source: | Comments (23)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by toast 7 years ago
You are telling, again, utter nonsense. First, there are no solutions to ship nuclear waste to the Moon; 2nd, nobody would accept the very high costs and 3rd, nobody would accept the high risk of nuclear pollution of the Earth in case of carrier failure. Nuclear power plants are in service for nearly 70 years now, dont you wonder why we still not have such deep located storage sites?
Comment icon #15 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
1 - Nasa is sending nuclear powered probes to space since 70's . Active plutonium is much more dangerous in smaller quantities than atomic waste. The actual cost of storing waste in third world countries or buried deep under tons of mountain rock , including lead cover layers and such would be 3 times more expansive than paying Russia to fly it in space. 2 - deep forage isn't possible yet since there was little interest in developing equipment to do it although curently there has been successful attempts to drill deeper and deeper
Comment icon #16 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy 7 years ago
The RTG's on NASA spacecrafts countains at most 8 kg of plutonium. Currently we produce around 12.000 tons of high-level nuclear wate per year, this is the equivelant of 1,5 million RTG's. I don't know what it would cost to store waste in 3rd world countries, but do you really think it is a good idea to send material usefull for nuclear weapons and dirty bombs to 3rd world countries ? This we can actually do some math on. Assuming we use the Proton rocket we can currently send about 20 tons into orbit at a cost of 65 million ... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by toast 7 years ago
Noteverythingisaconspiracy was a little faster than me here and he gave you exactly the answer I would had given. But I would like to ask you, as you used the wording "active plutonium", are you in the opinion that there is "inactive plutonium" as well?
Comment icon #18 Posted by qxcontinuum 7 years ago
well, plutonium is an active element with a half life of approx. 24,000 years. So yeah it decays in time, i don't see why my statement is incorrect !
Comment icon #19 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
I kind of like this idea of floating wind farms. There's got to be a better way then dangling cables down to the sea floor. Perhaps convert oil tankers to store electrical charge, and then have them bring it back to shore? Or, perhaps have the wind generators produce hydrogen in the base of the tower and then the hydrogen is tankered back to shore?
Comment icon #20 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
I agree. Nuclear is not the future. It is a expensive dead end.  Fukushima....  
Comment icon #21 Posted by Black Monk 7 years ago
It's bird-shredding (not very good for the environment) windmills that are the expensive and useless dead end. Nuclear and coal (of which the UK sits on trillions of tons) are the future. How many Fukushimas have there been? Fukushima sits on an earthquake zone. Most nuclear plants don't.
Comment icon #22 Posted by khol 7 years ago
They should hire my ex wife to stand in front of a wind farm   but yeah quite sure politicians would work as well  !
Comment icon #23 Posted by toast 7 years ago
The Chernobyl disaster wasnt caused by geological forces, the Windscale incident wasnt caused by geological forces, the 2005 Sellafield incident wasnt cause by geological forces, the Three Mile Island incidents werent caused by geological forces etc etc etc. 

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