A former member
Post #: 46

I like the pictures. And there are some good links in the comments that follow. I don't understand how they can get the electricity back to shore though. And what about those storms in the North Seas? As I understand it they are so bad massive air craft carriers avoid them because, well, they don't want to be sunk by waves that dwarf them. So are these turbines going to be salt water proof? Capable of taking a continuous spray, sometimes dunking, and keep on turning?

I really like the idea and if they design it right it should work. But wow, lots of design work to be done...

Say each of these turbines produce 5MW. (Ocean turbines are larger than land based turbines.) They are spaced out one per every 4 acres. (General rule of thumb for land based, may be different for ocean based.) And each one costs 10 million. Every square mile of ocean would allow 160 turbines, producing 800MWs, and costing 1.6 billion dollars.

Why use nuclear or coal when we have such cheap renewable clean limitless solutions?
Jeffrey Paul A.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 7
> Why use nuclear or coal when we have such cheap renewable clean limitless solutions?

The answer is that it's a scale problem. Dr. Nathan Lewis of Caltech did a great presentation earlier this year on the options and the math associated with each. Take a look at his site, and note the section to the right where it sys "Caltech streaming theater"; choose the right connection and you can watch his preso. It's long, but I think you'll find it captivating.

here's a couple of hints as to what you'll see: nuclear could scale to replace coal, but the numbers are staggering. We'd be swimming in nuclear waste. Wind cannot scale to replace coal.
A former member
Post #: 47
Thanks for the link. I didn't see his presentation. I'm looking through his slides currently and they seem dated and no longer accurate. For instance when he talks about how far off shore turbines can be. He says no more than 20 Km. However as you can see from following my first link on this thread they are currently installing or planning on installing these turbines much further offshore than he says is possible.

Currently California uses about 60 Gigawats of power annually. That's only about 70 square miles of offshore ocean space, beyond the visible horizon, according to my calculations above. Yet he pretty much discounts offshore wind turbines. Makes me wonder.

He also writes off solar power as being much much more expensive, about 4 times more, than other sources. Last I checked Solar power was pretty close to what we pay for electricity from SDGE. (Granted SDGE charges us more than anybody else in the country, except one place, but when they hike up the prices this year we will probably be paying more than anywhere else in the world.)

I will look through more of his site but from what I've seen it looks like he is using out dated figures taken straight from the Bush administration.
Jeffrey Paul A.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 8
Here's the direct link to his streaming video for cable/dsl speeds:


I don't think he's a Bushie :-) His agenda appears to be solar technology. Solar paint in fact.

I'll drop him an email and ask him what he thinks of the wind tech if it could go 50 -100 miles offshore at that cost.
Jeffrey Paul A.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 9
Got a quick response... Dr. Lewis' opinion is that it wouldn't make an appreciable difference in his numbers - a relatively small incremental compared to the land mass he used in his calculations. If they could go 1000 miles offshore, then the numbers would be different.

Their technology says they can move side to side but not up and down. I'm assuming for economic and environmental reasons we need to combine their output underwater offshore, bringing a single feeder back to the grid, and that means they are connected to each other. How do you do this inexpensively?
A former member
Post #: 48
Well I'm glad he's not a Bushie and I really like what he's working on. I think it's clearly one of the three future foundations. Painted on solar, wind turbines, and all things hydrogen for storage. The fact he's working at CIT proves he's very good at what he's doing. However I always like the details no matter the source. For instance if it takes a square ocean mile to generate a GW of offshore wind energy this opens the door for all sorts of immediate benefits.

Apparently they have some cabling solution to get this energy back to the grid. I'd like to know more about how. Just as I'd like to know how they think they can possibly leave these turbines out on the north seas. The very thought of anything withstanding the horrible conditions out there totally baffles me.

I'm intrigued and I will be picking over his site extensively for weeks probably. I'm in the learning phase and as you can tell by all my posts here I am always looking for good information.
A former member
Post #: 59
Got a quick response... Dr. Lewis' opinion is that it wouldn't make an appreciable difference in his numbers - a relatively small incremental compared to the land mass he used in his calculations. If they could go 1000 miles offshore, then the numbers would be different.

Their technology says they can move side to side but not up and down. I'm assuming for economic and environmental reasons we need to combine their output underwater offshore, bringing a single feeder back to the grid, and that means they are connected to each other. How do you do this inexpensively?

Ok, I've listened to his talk. My opinions differ on some items. In his talk he runs down the numbers making a good case for solar power. He and his wife are both into solar. I think if he and his wife were into wind he'd had made an equally good case for wind. As it was I got the feeling he used old maps and old technology to dismiss wind without looking much into it.

He brought up some good points about spacing turbines. However this is old news and wind farms space turbines properly so the wind doesn't drop out totally. It's about one per every 4 acres. He could have mentioned this rather than bringing up spacing as a show stopper to large scale adoption.

Another point was that old wind map he uses. Every few months it seems new maps come out that open up more land as being useful for turbines. He ignores this and emphasizes that particular old map. That people have interpreted that single map incorrectly giving wind far too much credit. That instead the map shows wind can never be a complete solution by itself. Kind of reminds me of somebody trying to predict the future of computers given the massive tube types we had in the 50s and 60s. Things change for the better fortunately.

Then there was the cute way he brought up how energy increases greatly as the wind blows harder. That he gives this equation to his first year students, setting a tone, to dismiss it. Saying it is why the turbines are in only a few spots in Ca. That from his personal observations driving by the wind isn't strong enough to keep them all turning. Well turbines certainly don't take advantage of all the wind flowing through them. And they are being designed larger and larger so as to work well with very little wind. As in 8 to 13mph. Doesn't take much to get that. In fact my computers weather plugin says that it's currently 70 degrees with the breeze blowing at 11.5mph. (And the air seems completely dead looking out the window.)

Well, for all I know there are equally impressive professors working in the wind industry who say similar things about the solar industry. I can sympathize with him wanting to get more money for solar. I hope he does.

Seems to me Turbines are being erected as quickly as they can be produced. That it is quite profitable for all parties. However I'm interested in discovering the limits. Can wind do it all for us? I think it can. He points out we need 3.3TW of energy each year in America. Our coast line is about about 2 to 3K long, counting the gulf. If we lined our country with turbines 15 miles off shore, placing each turbine roughly on it's own 4 acres, but a mile thick, we'd have about 3.3TW. Since I have to worry about absurdities being blown out of proportion I'll say there are probably many places offshore that would be far too deep for anchors. Other places where the wind rarely blows, even on a diurnal basis, and other places which can't be touched due to shipping reasons. However wind, by itself, seems like it may be all we need if the turbines could be built fast enough.

And I'm on the same page with him when it comes to solar power. Solar, by itself, would also take care of our countries energy needs. Completely.

I suspect if you take the growth rate of both the solar and wind and extrapolate it out over the next 20 years those two will cover all we need in terms of electricity. Take the current energy supplied by wind and raise it by the current annual growth rate, add to this the solar, then take in even the wildest predictions of say the National Petroleum Council's increase of 1.7% per year rather than the actual decline of 2% per year found in America, and see what you get... I did earlier this morning and it comes out looking like we can totally remove fossil, nuclear, and biomass from our environment within a few decades by just letting current market trends do their work.

I very much like the idea of a clean environment. One we are not contaminating with radiation, mercury, and franken plants that will get out of control.
Jeffrey Paul A.
San Diego, CA
Post #: 10
Very cool, Dave. I admire the fact that you ran your own math, and will accept that the coast line produces enough wind as you say to work with current or upcoming technology. Since you have the numbers, what would it cost to install that wind farm in today's dollars? I remember the person who came to present turbine technology to us made a case for how tenuous the pricing is and how dependent it is on subsidies to make a profit. I hear you re: production like volkswagons, but just in weight of materials they are intuitively substantially more than a volkswagon and they have some engineering challenges you mention which make them more complex than a volkswagon.
A former member
Post #: 67
Yes, I remember the lady too. I asked a few questions about her numbers during the presentation and then gave up because they were not making sense. I asked about those subsidies. She gave the impression that without them the industry would be doomed. However without them the cost was still quite competitive. And the fact her company just couldn't get the components to build them quick enough and so were back-logged for years made me wonder if subsidies really were needed. However she did pull some graph from past years correlating subsidies to production. I left very confused. I believe I still have her papers here somewhere. I'll try to look through them again and check the references.

Above in the first posting I ran some numbers to show what the price would be per GW, and that a GW was roughly a square mile with one turbine per 4 acres in that square mile. Those rough calculations, probably quite a bit on the high side, show 1GW at 1.6 billion USD. I don't know if it is possible or wise to anchor turbines so closely together. There are probably lots of little details that are missing. Hopefully the 1.6B would cover them all. Then multiply this 1.6B/GW by 3,300 and you would get the total cost to supply all energy America uses on a yearly basis. Including that used by heating oil, petrol, nuclear, coal, what not...

If you assume you want to just replace the electricity our government wants to build nuclear power plants for it looks like we could easily accomplish that by 2020 at our current growth rates starting at 3%.

year 25.00% 35.00% 45.00%
2007 3 3 3
2008 3.75 4.05 4.35
2009 4.69 5.47 6.31
2010 5.86 7.38 9.15
2011 7.32 9.96 13.26
2012 9.16 13.45 19.23
2013 11.44 18.16 27.88
2014 14.31 24.52 40.43
2015 17.88 33.1 58.62
2016 22.35 44.68 85
2017 27.94 60.32 123.25
2018 34.92 81.43 178.72
2019 43.66 109.93 259.14

I have a hard time believing the wind energy sector is growing at 35% annually but I've seen many claims that it is. I put in a growth rate of 25 and 45 just to check the boundaries.

If our government pulled out of Iraq and spent the money on wind turbines instead we'd be completely converted over to wind within a year. If we hadn't gone to Iraq in the first place and used the money for wind turbines we'd be completely off fossil and nuclear. Then with the huge savings maybe they could tackle the education and medical industries...

(editing it to say I'm not sure how much we have spent in Iraq or are currently spending.)
A former member
Post #: 4
According to what I read the california energy commission - emerging renewables program offers a rebate on home wind turbines. I actually put one up this spring it is a 1.6 kW Bergey.

Do any of you knowledgeable folks know if I can get a rebate on my wind turbine? I am trying to verify that I my residential system qualifies for this program.

My property is entirely off-the-grid and so the solar rebate system does not apply (go figure).

____________________ the answer is......... ___________

***** for those who did look into it as well - it is true that a wind turbine installation must be tied into the grid to qualify for the california rebates. ********* Another of many disincentives to explore self sufficient houses.

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