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Offshore Wind Energy Picking Up Speed

Offshore Wind Energy Picking Up Speed

“In the North Sea alone we have a potential to economically exploit the offshore resources to cover seven times Europe’s total energy consumption. We wouldn’t have to import fuel if we can tap into that.” Christian Kjaer, chief executive at the European Wind Energy Association, is not talking about deep sea drilling, but offshore wind turbines, which have doubled their total power production over the past three years to 866 megawatts, MarketWatch reports.

Though offshore wind farms are still outnumbered by their land-based equivalents, they are growing at an accelerated rate.Wind turbines need to be placed in areas that have a fairly consistent current of usable wind. Large flat expanses, like prairies, are best, though nothing is flatter than a body of water. Of course, farms still need to be near enough to shore that power can easily reach land.

The majority of offshore wind energy development in 2011 (about 80 percent) was developed privately by utility companies. Some experts are citing increased fossil fuel costs as making wind power more attractive.

Besides taking advantage of the flat expanses and unused wind energy just offshore, another advantage is not having to deal with complainants who say wind turbines ruin their view. Not long ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists ran a sadly funny cartoon on this topic:

(Image credit: Joe Heller)

Frankly, I’ve always considered wind turbines very sleek and attractive. Even more so when one thinks about what’s not hidden inside those towers. No cauldron of toxic smoke, no nuclear waste, minimal (though not zero) disturbance to the local environment and wildlife.

Here’s the first image I ever saw of a wind farm, in a futuristic animated sci-fi movie from the 1990s:

(Image credit: Bandai)

Isn’t that lovely? Maybe that’s why when I hear about the growth of the wind power industry, I feel like we’re taking one step further into the future, and one step further away from this kind of thing:

(Photo credit: Wknight 94)

Let’s hope this trend continues.

Related stories:

Green Construction is Here to Stay

Neighborhood Activists Shut Down Two Coal Fired Plants

Top Industry Experts: “Green Energy is a Smart Investment”

Read more: , , , , , , , ,

Photo credit: Hans Hillewaert

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4:53PM PST on Nov 6, 2013

Last night in New Zealand we hade a vote on the future of extractive ( coal extraction , deep sea oil drilling ) industries v sustainable ( wind power,geothermal,and hydroelectricity) of which NZ has in abundance. Fortunately the panel promoting clean green energy won the debate.
I didn't realise how large the alternate enery industry was ! I'm amazed it's f__cking enormous.

11:16AM PST on Jan 3, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

1:20PM PST on Dec 15, 2012

Thank you Joel, for Sharing this!

8:13PM PDT on May 18, 2012

A sound system with owl sounds or bird of prey sounds seems like something that might help. However, it first needs to be tried on pairs of nearby windmills, one with such sounds and one without, to see how effective it is.

Another thing to watch for - whether sounds have been chosen that make owls and birds or prey stay away from the windmills as well

10:11PM PDT on May 17, 2012

To help the birds maybe there can be a sound system with owl sounds or bird of prey sounds??
We need energy that is less harmful. The Alta Mont Pass have had windmills for years. Maybe they can help with what they do with the birds.

2:39PM PDT on May 17, 2012

NOT one of our better ideas. Why are we still thinking in the last century when it comes to energy?

5:13AM PDT on May 15, 2012

Sure--sustainable energy sources are getting federal subsidies. Fossil fuels are getting even more federal subsidies. We already have global warming and CO2 from fossil fuel is aggravating it. Diverting the fossil fuel subsidies from fossil fuel to sustainable energy--even with guaranteeing the fossil fuel firms priority on investing the subsidy funds in sustainable energy INSTEAD of more fossil fuel would be much cheaper than either trying to adapt to global warming or letting global warming destroy agriculture as we know it.

10:28AM PDT on May 14, 2012

Great job.

10:27AM PDT on May 14, 2012

We need as much wind and solar power as we can get. We need to decentralize solar and wind power and put solar and wind power on every home, buissiness and commercial building in America.

3:04PM PDT on May 13, 2012

I want one in my backyard !

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