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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
An interesting article on proposed Wind Farms off of NC coast.

I am not a big supporter of wind farms simply because the foundations will he there forever to wreck boats. I would much prefer us to reduce our energy usage, like turn off the lights once in a while for a start.

Another thing is, how do we transit through these areas? Maybe simple if all goes well but what if things are pear shaped? How high are the blades over the water surface? What happens when a boat with crew run into one? USCG will be loath to approach you in a helo in a wind farm?

My personal opinions aside it is a worthwhile read for sailors as it will directly impact us.


 

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Sounds like you've been reading some propaganda by the oil and coal industry.

How do you transit these areas? The same way that people have been transiting offshore oil fields for the past 70 years. The turbines are marked on the charts. (E.g. raster chart 12200 has two about 25 miles east of Virginia Beach.) If you're single handing, dead tired, and in pea soup fog, just go around the whole field.
How high are the blades over the surface? Very high, and getting higher all the time, since that's where the wind is. The ones off Block Island are 82 feet between the sea and the lowest point on the blade, and those are pretty short. Newer ones are 130 feet sea-to-tip. Furthermore, that dimension is where the pole is. If your mast is going to get clipped by a blade, you're also going to run into the base. Maybe don't do that.
The coasties can hover a helicopter directly over a disabled sailboat in gale force winds. No, they are not going to hover directly over you if you're pinned against a piling, but I suspect they'll be able to drop off a rescue swimmer on the windward side then pick your incapable-of-navigating self up on the leeward side.

As to the article, if you're relying on radar to navigate near a shipping channel within 30 miles of shore, I am concerned about your judgement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I wonder who, what agency, in the USA is playing the same role as the RYA.
 

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Just back from Denmark, where there are extensive wind farms off the coast. Sailors do not seem to be overly bothered by them -- they're in shallow areas that boats already tend to avoid if they don't want to run aground.
 

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You don't transit through them. You have to go around.
They are a pain in the butt, à blight on the sea bed and visual pollution par max. The blades kill birds and the old propellirs can't be recycled but go into landfill.
I think they are a disgusting vandalism of the earth.

When the wind doesn't blow they do not stop. Why? Because they are powered on to keep moving or the momentum is to much to restart them.

If we had modern generation 4 nuclear there would be no need for this expensive waste.
 

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I've never encountered offshore turbines in my watery travels, but I've dealt with lots of other exclusion zones. I don't see why these would be any different. As for aesthetics, I don't have any issue with them. They're certainly far less ugly than power lines or massive exhaust stacks. I've sailed in the outflow zone of a nuclear power plant, and it discoloured the water for many 10s of nm all around. This was kinda ugly.

Personally, I would love to see zero need for new electrical generation. But that would require people to greatly reduce their demand for power. Since I see zero chance of us doing this, the best-worst options for new power are wind, solar, tidal and nuclear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
+++1 for reducing demand.

Who is gonna remove those huge foundations?

They will be a menace for a looooong time to come.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Someone has been working in this for many years. Quite a few years ago they had one working but after a storm it stopped. When they went to service it they could not, it was GONE.

While a positive step I am very doubtful tidal energy will be a game changer, relatively few candidate sites and very harsh conditions.

Wave generation or FLOATING wind generation are more attractive if feasible.
 

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+++1 for reducing demand.

Who is gonna remove those huge foundations?

They will be a menace for a looooong time to come.
No different than the scores of abandoned and derelict and unlit/unmarked oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Nobody complained about them being built.

Mark
 

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I just spent the last couple of months house sitting at a place in windmill country. I was surrounded by a dozen of them, with the closest less than a km away.

For reasons which baffle me, some people have a real hate-on for them. It baffles me because I don't see how they are uglier, or more intrusive, than other power generators. Surely they are less ugly than belching stacks or massive power dams. I'd say they are prettier than large solar panel arrays. They do kill birds, but so do a lot of things we build: buildings, power lines, airports...

As I say, I'd much rather see our societies reduce our demand for power, but that is a quixotic ( ;)) battle. I would also love to see a lot more nuclear power, but there are areas where wind and solar really make sense. And as we all know, wind is better offshore, so it makes even more sense to build large generators out on the briny.

Sky Plant Natural landscape Branch Twig
Cloud Sky Plant Natural environment Tree
 

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It is strange how people will demand for more offshore oil rigs to be built in pristine and fragile environments, but go ape nuts over wind turbines offshore. As for blades in landfills, that is much better than the used products of oil wells and power stations being belched into the atmosphere and pumped into the oceans. Power plants don't just turn off or even turn down when demand is low, they also are kept powered on because the energy to restart them is too much.

Of course wind turbines cause cancer...

Mark
 

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Just back from Denmark, where there are extensive wind farms off the coast. Sailors do not seem to be overly bothered by them -- they're in shallow areas that boats already tend to avoid if they don't want to run aground.
Offshore wind is favorable when there are long stretches of open ocean for the wind to pick up speed before reaching wind turbines. The prevailing winds in the populated regions of North America and Europe are from the west to east. This means the best places for offshore wind in these latitudes is the west coast.

Europe's west coast (and North Sea where the shoreline goes east-west) is blessed with an enormous continental shelf. Wind makes sense there. Some of the regions off Scotland have the highest capacity factor (average generation / max possible generation over a year) for wind, exceeding 0.6. Spain is not far behind. Capacity factor for offshore wind elsewhere is about 0.3-0.35.

The west coast in North America pretty much doesn't have a continental shelf. You travel a few miles offshore and the water is over a mile deep. The east coast has a big continental shelf, but because of the prevailing wind direction, any wind you get there is mostly spoiled by moving over the land before reaching the ocean. And in general the extra cost of building/maintaining offshore wind turbines and laying undersea power cables is not worth the slight increase in generation. You're usually better off just building onshore wind at a lower cost (typical capacity factor 0.2 to 0.25). (Exception is the east-west stretch of coastline between New York and Cape Cod. That's long enough and clear enough in the east-west direction that winds can build up to a significant steady speed. Which is why they're trying to put offshore wind there, much to the chagrin of the rich folks at Martha's Vineyard.)

So I'm usually skeptical of offshore wind projects on the U.S. east coast. In most cases they're not proposed because there's a good technical reason to put the wind turbines offshore. They're proposed because of NIMBY - you put it offshore to minimize the people who will oppose the project because it spoils their views. From a technical, logistical, engineering, and fiscal standpoint, it's better to put the wind turbines onshore - that would be easier, safer, and cheaper to build, maintain, and operate. You just have to navigate the gauntlet of public opposition (same as the hyped up fears of nuclear power stalling projects, so I guess turnabout is fair play, though I would prefer an informed public who didn't oppose either).

It is strange how people will demand for more offshore oil rigs to be built in pristine and fragile environments, but go ape nuts over wind turbines offshore.
I have no love for fossil fuels. But with the environmental movement blocking nuclear, that leaves fossil fuels as our only source of concentrated, on-demand power generation. Trying to fulfil on-demand power via battery storage is currently a pipe dream. Any time you store generated electricity, about 20%-30% of it is lost as waste heat (for some reason proponents always omit this). i.e. Storage only makes sense when nuclear + renewable generation exceeds 100% of demand. As long as you're below that threshold and any power is being generated by fossil fuels at all times during the day, you are better off using that renewable power directly the moment it's generated, rather than trying to store it for later use. Or another way to think of it, as long as you still need to burn some fossil fuels, highest efficiency is achieved when you just shift fossil fuel generation to the time periods when renewable power is unavailable, rather than try to shift renewable power to those time periods.

e.g. Say people use 3 MWh during the day and 2 MWh during the night. And your current generation is 2 MWh renewables during the day, 0 at night, with the rest being made up with fossil fuels.

Current:
  • Day: 3 MWh total demand
    • 2 MWh generated from renewables
    • 1 MWh from fossil fuels
  • Night: 2 MWh total demand.
    • 2 MWh from fossil fuels.
  • Overall consumption: 2 MWh from renewables. 3 MWh from fossil fuels.
With battery storage shifting 1 MWh renewable power into the night:
  • Day: 3 MWh total demand
    • 1 MWh generated from renewables to the grid
    • (1 MWh from renewables stored in batteries)
    • 2 MWh from fossil fuels
  • Night: 2 MWh total demand
    • 0.75 MWh from renewables stored in batteries (1 MWh after storage efficiency losses)
    • 1.25 MWh from fossil fuels
  • Overall consumption: 1.75 MWh from renewables, 3.25 MWh from fossil fuels
Surprise! As long as renewable generation does not exceed 100% of demand, storing renewable energy in batteries actually causes us to burn more fossil fuels, not less. Yes the tech should be researched in preparation for when that day arrives when generation exceeds 100% of demand. But it's stupid to implement it before we've rolled out enough nuclear and renewable power that we exceed that threshold consistently. Implementing it early will only cause us to needlessly convert some of that clean energy into waste heat, and burn more fossil fuels to make up that loss.

As for "pristine and fragile" environments, the amount of oil released in the Deepwater Horizon spill (4.9 million barrels) was about the same as is released into the Gulf of Mexico every 1-5 years from natural oil seeps. Likewise, the amount of oil released during the recent Huntington Beach (southern California) oil spill was about as much as is released into the waters there from natural oil seeps in a single day. In some locations (e.g. La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles) it comes up naturally on land. In North America, the amount of oil released from natural seeps (and eventually consumed by microorganisms who convert it into CO2) actually exceeds the amount of oil we burn for power by about 2:1. The media doesn't tell you things like this because they've long since abandoned giving you pertinent facts, in favor of pushing an agenda. (Don't misunderstand - the CO2 we generate by burning oil is still a problem because it's additional oil, above the natural historical levels which resulted in Earth's steady state.)

Oil is a natural part of the environment and is constantly being released into the oceans and on land. If you've walked the beach and run across a tar ball, it's most likely from a natural seep, not an oil spill. The environment has coped with oil seeps for millions of years before we ever began drilling for oil. There's nothing pristine nor fragile about it. These spills were bad because they released a high concentration of oil in a small area. Not because they released oil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
How about we all try to learn to consume less?

I have come around on nukes, the lessor of evils.

Reduce, reuse, recycle is the low hanging fruit. But we seem cultural allergic to it.
 
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How about we all try to learn to consume less?

I have come around on nukes, the lessor of evils.

Reduce, reuse, recycle is the low hanging fruit. But we seem cultural allergic to it.
Completely agree, but we're tilting at windmills ( ;)) when pushing for the "use less" option. We happily argue about the best way to generate more power. But when you suggest we all use less, all you get are blank stares.
 

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These spills were bad because they released a high concentration of oil in a small area. Not because they released oil.
You missed my point about people calling for more oil wells while complaining about wind. The point was that both put unsightly structures offshore that have potential to be abandoned in the future, as well as present equal navigation challenges. It had nothing to do with the energy extracted.

Even on land, this holds true. Nobody in Texas complains about driving hundreds of miles past oil wells as far as one can see, but propose a wind farm on similar land and all hell breaks loose.

You also missed my point about waste generation. I was addressing the disposal of turbine blades in land dumps vs. the disposal of fossil fuel waste into the atmosphere and immediate environment. I didn't even address the comparison of dumping turbine blades in landfills vs. nuclear waste in landfills. Waste has to go somewhere. Some places are more benign than others, and some waste is more benign than others. The atmosphere is rarely a benign place to store waste.

At least you recognized that there is a world of difference between acute and chronic release of oil into the environment. Natural leaks rarely result in beaches filled with oil and wildlife dead over large areas. Chronic release is also mostly slow leaking at the bottom of the ocean, and not oil brought up in volume to the surface and released.

Similarly, CO2 production is also a natural part of the earth's cycles. In a chronic sense, it may even outpace what humans dump in artificially - just like your oil example. But CO2 production from rotting vegetation and animal respiration has never in the history of the earth been an environmental issue. And it never will.

Mark
 

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How about we all try to learn to consume less?

I have come around on nukes, the lessor of evils.

Reduce, reuse, recycle is the low hanging fruit. But we seem cultural allergic to it.
Many of us have already learned to consume less energy. Heck, we produce most of our own energy from solar (at least 99.5% of it). We do have a diesel engine, but its consumption is measured in 100gal/yr or so, and it does take some oil to maintain it. Our outboard is our automobile, and it too uses gasoline, but only 30gal/yr or so. Again, a small amount of oil to maintain it. We have no heating costs, and have cooling only when in a marina. Most of our food comes unwrapped from local meat and produce markets, and we even have our own grocery bags (although they are nylon, so that counts against). Some of the things we do need come packaged in an absurd amount of waste, but there isn't any avoiding this, and not much we can do about it since there aren't alternatives until the companies themselves stop.

I don't know how our consumption compares to an average US person, but I'd bet a donut it is 90% less.

Mark
 
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