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UK Wants Huge Expansion In Offshore Wind Power

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the think-of-the-birds dept.

Power 264

OriginalArlen writes "The UK government has announced an ambitious plan to expand the existing offshore wind turbine farms, which are already extensive, to an estimated 7,000 units — two per mile of coastline — enough to generate 20% of the UK's power needs by 2020. The newly green-friendly Conservative opposition party is also backing the scheme. Wonder what they'll make of it in Oregon..."

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Brits are... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652055)

...Fags

Re:Brits are... (2, Funny)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652139)

The British are cigarettes? Seriously, old boy, I'm from MISSOURI [wikipedia.org] , and I know that slang means different things across the pond. If you don't catch up with the times, people are going to think you're one of those extremely unintelligent trolls. Oh, the shaminess of it all.

Migor does LAUGH (0, Offtopic)

Migor9000 (1201327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652069)

Foolish puny Earth windmen. Power is not derived from spinning mills of wind.

Power comes from Migor and the awesome hyper-nuclear reactors aboard Migor's mighty space ship.

They create your puny "WIND"

Re:Migor does LAUGH (1, Funny)

renegadesx (977007) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652075)

It's not wind... wind is just a theory
Say hello to 'Intelligent Blowing'

Why not make some more nuclear plants? (4, Interesting)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652089)

France does it quite well. In fact they're a net energy exporter.

Re:Why not make some more nuclear plants? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652195)

I assume they sell to Spain via the grid? Also, does France create and export Hydrogen with the left-over nuclear energy?

Because the goal is not to create clean energy (1, Insightful)

patio11 (857072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652235)

The goal is to please environmentalists. And environmentalists hate nukes with a passion which makes an uncontrolled fission reaction look like a popcorn kettle.

This does have some truth to it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652465)

It's not really a troll as it does have some truth to it. Moding it troll really was just a waste of mod points it doesn't change the truth. I know than in my State of California no Wind turbines of any importance or Nuclear facility could be built without in a lawsuit/lawsuits from environmentalists blocking it for years first. So none will be built. Why would anyone put themselves through the hassle and expense? The same goes for taping off shore oil and natural gas, it's there and in large amounts, no one is allowed to access it by federal regulations insisted on by the environmentalists. We import oil and gas from people who hate us instead.

Re:Because the goal is not to create clean energy (2, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652523)

Close but no cigar. The goal (and it is stated in the report) is to decrease the dependency on foreign energy sources.

What is interesting here is that it is actually not Britain being afraid of the Gulf going tits up, it is afraid of Russia. Even with the new Norwegian pipeline that came online last year the net North sea gas production is forecast to continue decreasing. As a result the UK which has moved most of its electricity production to gas as has 90% of households using gas will have to start buying gas from the European gas grid which is mostly fed by Russia (though by that time the North African counties may joing it as a secondary supplier). Considering Britain's habit to fund nearly every antigovernment and separatist nut in Russia this will make for an interesting political situation indeed.

Electricity export from France (4, Insightful)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652331)

When you're next door to Italy, of course you're going to be a net exporter! Who are they going to rely on to generate their power? Themselves

In case you're not familiar with power sources, for baseload power, you're generally going to be using hydro, nuclear, or coal. They're sources whose fuel is cheap and whose plants lend themselves to larger outputs. To cover infrequent peaks of demand, one frequently maintains reserve capacity in the form of gas turbines or, less common and more expensively, oil or gas-fired power plants. Reserve capacity has a low purchase price (or is leftover from decades with more favorable fuel prices, in the case of oil and gas-fired plants) and a high operating cost

Italy--in goddamn 2007--maintains oil-fired baseload capacity. That's right, the stuff an American power company won't touch unless a market's gas lines happened to be cut on the same day their whirly gigs won't start up. Just like the rest of the West did up until the first Oil Crisis in the 1970's.

So, while France's impressive system for licensing and standardizing plants, along with their active R&D in the industry, might be laudable, that surplus is there to profit from flaws in their neighbors' own energy policies.

Re:Electricity export from France (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652411)

So California equals Italy and Nevada and Arizona equal France?

Re:Electricity export from France (1)

jordyhoyt (1013713) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652481)

...for baseload power, you're generally going to be using hydro, nuclear, or coal.
Psh, duh! Sim City taught me that! You had to start in 2050 though i think to get nuclear right away. Isn't that right?

Re:Electricity export from France (5, Funny)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652501)

Actually the power-plants-blow-up-in-50-years feature in SimCity 2000 stems from a feasibility study into the possibility of letting Italians run their own power plants.

European hell... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652881)

When you're next door to Italy, of course you're going to be a net exporter! Who are they going to rely on to generate their power? Themselves
In European hell all the cooks are British, the cops are German, the engineers are French the lovers are Swiss and the whole thing is administrated by the Italians.

Re:Why not make some more nuclear plants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652459)

France does it quite well. In fact they're a net energy exporter.

Well, you're obviously going to use less energy when you under-cook your food and eat dinners by candlelight.

Re:Why not make some more nuclear plants? (2, Informative)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652775)

Public mood in England is shifting away from Nuclear power following various leaks http://archive.thisisthenortheast.co.uk/2004/6/10/49327.html/ [thisisthenortheast.co.uk] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellafield#2005_Thorp_plant_leak/ [wikipedia.org]

Not to mention uranium is a finite source, uses lots of energy to mine and refine, there's no way to deal with the waste long term and plants can be dangerous.

So why not go with the safer, long term alternative which is wind power?

Re:Why not make some more nuclear plants? (2, Interesting)

polar red (215081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652817)

Not to mention the latest study of the German gov. which says that Living close to a nuclear power plant gives you a much higher chance(or at least your children) of cancer. see: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2994904,00.html [dw-world.de]

Wind/Solar and "Base Load" (5, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652839)

This concept of "Base Load" gets bantied about, in (often) confusing and erroneous ways.

An electrical energy system has two values that are critical in preserving the integrity of the system.

1) "Base load" - the minimum amount of load the system can expect at any time. In short, there's *always* going to be this much or more energy produced at any given time. If you overproduce Base load you have rising voltages in the system and potentially cause problems. Though, this is rarely a problem - if there was too much capacity at any time, they could offset the phase of a generator or two, causing one system to effectively cancel out the other, reducing system voltage.

2) "Max load" - the maximum amount of load the system could generate at any time. If your usage exceeds max load, you have rolling brownouts or even blackouts.

Usually, the "Base load" is handled by slower-moving-but cheap power plants. A coal-fired plant can take an hour or more to change its output significantly, but it can produce electricity 24x7 at the cheapest possible cost. Thus it's a good candidate for "Base Load". But whatever solution is applied to base load, it must be very, very dependable.

However, the difference between Base load and Max load can be quite variable, changing significantly in mere minutes. This "Variable load" must be met in order to prevent voltage spikes and/or brownouts, and to handle this, you need power plants that can vary their output quickly, and on demand.

Notice that neither Wind or Solar energy can actually act as either Base or Variable loads. Yes, they add energy to the sytem, but they can't be considered "Base load" since their output varies. And they can't really be considered "Variable load" because their output varies with their wind-energy input, NOT because their output varies upon demand.

Thus, Wind/Solar can't really be used as EITHER base or "Variable" load. ALL of the output of either Solar or Wind energy must be matched by other variable load sources, so that when the wind isn't blowing and/or the sun not shining, the system as a whole can preserve its integrity. And this is the part that nobody discusses.

YES, you can get energy from the wind, or from solar panels. But it isn't reliable, so can't be used for "Base load", but it also isn't available "on demand" so it isn't useful for "Variable load".

Which brings me to my point: what if they used the wind energy to compress air that's otherwise stored on the ocean floor? All that nice, heavy water would avoid the need for high-pressure tanks, simply pushing the water out of the way would provide significant amounts of energy. And it would be useful for either base or variable loads, since the compressed air could be used to power generators on demand. Oh, and piping compressed air is a fairly lossless ordeal.

Why not?

Why not?

Re:Wind/Solar and "Base Load" (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653245)

Mostly correct, but in the UK at least:

Coal is not that cheap, and pollutes more than anything else

We have a few machines like Dinorwig [ic.ac.uk] which feed peak demand from baseload generation.

We have a lot of windmills that are politically correct, but sited where they disfigure the environment, and generate no electicity at all, as far as I can see.

Re:Why not make some more nuclear plants? (1)

PopeJM (956574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652957)

...why not make some maglev wind turbines?

http://www.engadget.com/2007/11/26/maglev-wind-turbines-1000x-more-effiencient-than-normal-windmill/ [engadget.com]

FTA: a field of 1,000 current wind turbiens takes 64,000 acres and powers 500,000 homes. A magleve wind turbine takes ~100 acres and powers 750,000. It uses neodymium rare earth magnets instead of electromagnets and, being maglev, doesn't lose power to friction.

Oh great (1, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652101)

Now they offshore our IT jobs to the fricken wind!

Re:Oh great (-1, Troll)

NexFlamma (919608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652135)

I'll admit, the wind has done some excellent things in IT recently, but when it comes to dealing with those accents over the phone I go nuts.

How you can replace an 'h' with a subtle wooshing noise is completely beyond me.

Re:Oh great (3, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652257)

You DO realise English comes from England right?

So technically, you're the one saying it wrong.

Re:Oh great (0)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652301)

Yeah yeah yeah. Congrats. No one alive know has a claim to creating the language, though, so it belongs to anyone who speaks it. Technically, I'm right, and so are you, and so is everybody else. So stuff it already.

Re:Oh great (1)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652619)

It's funny how that modded insightful. As if it's some great, big revelation that ENGlish comes from ENGland.

Re:Oh great (1)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652715)

I never made the connection.

However speaking strictly technically the vikings brought the language that is now English to England. So English came from...Germany....sort of.

Welsh, Irish and other Celtic languages are more English (as in from England) then English is.

May some cunning linguist (would that be called a cunnilingus) correct me if I am wrong.

Tho if we go all the way back...back...back....most (if not all) living languages are African.

Wait..what was this article about? ;)

Tidal is different from wind (3, Informative)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652103)

Wonder what they'll make of it in Oregon..."

The situation in Oregon called for the implementation of buoy-like devices to harness wave motion into power. Great Britain is talking about placing windmills offshore. The power generation and science in general is different. The politics of it may be the same though. I'm not qualified to speak about Brit NIMBY's (or I guess NOMSL-not on my shore line), Brit fisherman, or Brit energy lobbyists, as I am an American. I imagine there would be some resistance here, but I not familiar with the situation. On the other hand, wind is a proven tech so who knows. It really just comes down to how powerful the lobbying against this is, as it looks technically feasible and sufficiently beneficial.

They are, but perhaps they can combine (3, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652691)

They will most likely do stationary trubines in shallow water. Why not combine the pole with a bouy around it that generates wave power as well? I would think that the cost to do it is minimal.

Re:Tidal is different from wind (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652749)

Great Britain is talking about placing windmills offshore. The power generation and science in general is different. The politics of it may be the same though. I'm not qualified to speak about Brit NIMBY's (or I guess NOMSL-not on my shore line), Brit fisherman, or Brit energy lobbyists, as I am an American.


That's mighty big of you admitting you're not qualified and all.

Too bad more non-Americans can't admit the same when it comes to telling us all about our political failings.

NIMBYs are hugely powerful in the UK (5, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652827)

One of our local farmers, a very progressive guy, tried to put up a serious wind turbine to power his farm. He was prevented by a hugely expensive public enquiry in which "experts" from nowhere local were paid to turn up by local celebrities who didn't want their views spoiled. They even wheeled on a celebrity botanist (!) named David Bellamy, who told the enquiry that over the world as a whole glaciers were increasing, not decreasing (and the other side were so startled they didn't call a real climatologist to disagree.)

The opposition in the UK will come, not from locals, but weekending Londoners and expat American actors who will object to everything that spoils their view of the rest of the UK as their weekend playground. They will oppose the substations where power comes on shore (they've already done that in the Thames estuary), and, because they are lousy sailors, they will oppose anything that they might bump into while cruising drunk.

And they will demand first access to food and power when the crunch comes. Welcome to a country of 60 million people entirely controlled by the inhabitants of one Southern city.

Re:NIMBYs are hugely powerful in the UK (1)

dances with elks (863490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653209)

I think a lot of NIMBY problems come from the fact that planing permission is about the one thing local councils can still control so they like to do their best to block things. Presumably as a flexing of their political muscle.

Re:NIMBYs are hugely powerful in the UK (1)

boot1973 (809692) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653265)

Unfortunately you are correct. There will be a large number of uber-conservatives who think that windmills will destroy the environment (i.e. their view) Of course try and build a nuclear power station with in 100 miles of them and they will also complain. The fact that a large number of France's nuclear stations are dotted along the north coast leaving little ol' England the 1st stop for any fall out from an accident.

Personally I like windmills, They look good in Holland so why not here.. We've got 3000 miles of coastline so why not use it? I'm not sure that you can rely on wind power for all our needs but if a substatial amount can be generated then good luck.

As an aside, does anyone know why there isn't more investment in tidal power in the UK? I know that the reliability of the wind is one of the reasons given by the no to windmill group but tidal power is totally reliable (King Canut aside)

don't these kill a huge number of birds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652143)

for reasons I don't exactly recall - but apparently it's one of the drawbacks to windmill farms...

Yes, They Do! (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652405)

Drawback? Anyone who has seen Alfred Hitchcock's prophetic masterpiece - The Birds - will back me in saying "Forget renewable energy, this is its main selling point"



...should I have gone with "It's not a bird, it's a feature"?

Re:don't these kill a huge number of birds? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652419)

not any more than a Km of highway.

Actually, no. (5, Informative)

Chas (5144) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652513)

The whole "kills lots of birds" things came about because of some very early, very dense wind farms that weren't planned out very well and had smaller, very high-speed blade systems.

Newer wind turbine systems are larger, slower, better-designed, and more care is usually given to layout of a wind farm so that, while SOME birds are occasionally killed, the numbers are greatly reduced.

Do some Google searches for "altamont pass" and "wind turbines kill birds".

Re:Actually, no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652667)

Thanks for the update. Good to know they actually
cared about the issue and tried to improve the impact.

Re:Actually, no. (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652783)

Speaking of altamont pass, I was up on a hill nearby a few days ago and it was like 30MPH winds. At least enough to knock you down. Every single windmill was STOPPED. I'm guessing it's some stupid thing to protect migratory birds, because they were certainly wasting a lot of potential electricity generation.

Isn't this good for bird evolution? (3, Funny)

MOBE2001 (263700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652791)

I mean, it kills the dumb birds, hopefully before they reproduce. Eventually, you get a new species of high IQ birds who instinctly know that it's not a good thing to fly into a rotating wind turbine. ahahaha...

If it does (2, Funny)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652663)

then the upside is that there will be plenty of bird-slurry food to help fish populations increase.

Re:don't these kill a huge number of birds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652851)

Great, I'd love to have a few windmills downtown. Kill the local flying-rat population and produce power. What could be better?

Kennedy Comment (2, Insightful)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652173)

Good thing for the UK Teddy Kennedy doesn't own coastal property there. They'd be screwed.

This has to have some long term effect... (1, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652175)

Let me get this straight. In order to save the climate, we're going to switch from CO2 producing internal combustion engines to something that directly sucks the energy right out of the sky. Has anyone even bothered to computer model the atmosphere when you start extracting gigawatts and then terrawatts from it? If you stop to realize that in western nations, people actually consume more energy than the solar flux of their entire country (which is why you don't see solar powered cars), then, the thought of getting all of our energy from wind power seems to create a gaping energy deficit in the very climate itself. When the dust all settles, we'll probably be in some sort of windmill induced ice age, or, there will be no more rain.

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (2, Funny)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652191)

What's the difference between the wind hitting a windmill and the wind hitting a building?

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (1)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652355)

The building absorbs more energy I would think.

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653071)

Let me get this straight. You are saying that a Windmill, which is designed to extract energy from the wind, actually absorbs less energy than a building that is NOT designed to do this?

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (3, Interesting)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652423)

Well, as I understand it, the windmill turns the wind into bread, and the building simply sways back and forth in an impressive display of capitalism. ...but, um, that's not what you were asking, is it? Nevermind.

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652209)

Let me get this straight... North Americans already consume more energy than is added by the Sun in any given time period?

I find that extremely difficult to believe. Feel free to cite your sources, though.

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (1)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652229)

I propose that we should worry first about the huge amount of oxygen being removed from the atmosphere AS WE SPEAK. This whole breathing thing is selfish and damaging to the environment.

No, seriously... there is a LOT of wind in the world. Mention wind to the residents of Stockton, MO, and they can tell you exactly where they were when tornados destroyed their town 5 years ago. Where do people get this crazy idea that you are somehow going to destroy the environment by putting up what amount to windmills?

P.S. I believe the proper chain of events is the rain stops falling, and then the dust STOPS settling.

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652283)

Let me get this straight. In order to save the climate, we're going to switch from CO2 producing internal combustion engines to something that directly sucks the energy right out of the sky.

Glad to know I'm not alone on that one. At first glance we would expect the opposite of fossil fuel consumption (ie. to remove energy from climatic systems), so while it might be useful in the short run (and doubtlessly it is useful as a small component to the energy mix we'll need to survive without fossil fuels), the eventual effect might not be without climatic consequences itself (ie. if it forms a major component of said energy mix). Of course the climate being what it is, nothing that appears reasonable at first glance is guaranteed to be correct. In any case, this seems an intervention which should be carefully modelled before we scale it up to far. I would be very happy to be shown that I am merely being paranoid here.

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652325)

For it to affect global weather or atmospheric patterns it wouldn't matter whether the electricty produced was a large fraction of the energy consumed by humans, what would matter is whether it's a significant amount of the total energy in the atmospheric system. That's a far larger quantity than what humans actually use. I strongly suspect that you could run our entire civilization on atmospheric energy and not even be in the same order of magnitude as the total wind energy in the atmosphere at any particular time.

Things like this are worth worrying about if there's some rational reason to, backed up by data; to bring it up now, when there are really only a handful of wind turbines worldwide and far, far worse alternatives if we simply do nothing and continue to burn fossil fuels, seems like it could easily lead to mindless scaremongering. All it takes is for one "scientist" to mention something like this in public and some right-wing nutbag will be talking about how the commie-pinko-homosexual wind turbines are STEALING YOUR WIND and KILLING YOUR CHILDREN. And then they'll go and cash a nice big check from the coal lobby.

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (2, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652563)

We removed enough trees to make up for our puny amount of windmills.(I would even guess that the forest-clearing done in 1 day would make up for it)

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652329)

Allow me [awea.org] .

Consider that wind energy comes indirectly from solar conversion in the air, and thus is considered "renewable". The Sun will expand to consume the Earth before it runs out of wind-generating potential (in X billion years).

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652475)

Since "global warming" is the very loose term for EXCESS (i.e., more than we really want) energy in the atmosphere, extracting some small fraction of it with windmills, which are, after all, not very tall compared to the depth of the troposphere ( tens of m vs 10 km ) is a "good thing".

"in western nations, people actually consume more energy than the solar flux of their entire country"? I've seen estimates from several hundred to something over 1000 W/m2 solar flux for the US. The area of the United States is roughly 9.8 x 10^6 km2 (9.8 x 10^12 m2). Using 600 W/m2 and 8 hr/day, that's 4.704 x 10^16 W-H (4.7 x 10^13 KWH). The US consumes something around 3 x 10^13 KWH. So, not really.

The down sides to wind power are: bird strikes, which are bad for the windmills and VERY bad for the birds; uneven distribution, coupled with a competitive, rather than cooperative, power distribution grid; a bit of an eyesore with the current designs. Hardly reasons to abandon the concept.

lame modding (-1, Troll)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652511)

The parent should not be modded troll. They make a valid point. Those who understand Physics or Chemistry understand that energy is never created in a system, it can only be transferred to it.

So if the system suddenly starts using more energy it must be taking it from somewhere... We take it from the wind in this example. That weakens the wind. This will affect the climate, the wildlife, and the vegetation. We don't know how. I hope someone has actually thought this through.

Re:lame modding (2, Insightful)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652633)

And those who understand Logic understand that we've been putting up really big buildings that absorb a lot more wind energy than a windmill for millenia now and we have yet to make all the Earth's atmosphere shoot out into space.

Re:lame modding (2, Informative)

Markus Landgren (50350) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652913)

You're the one who is lame, and those who understand physics are exactly those who modded the parent to your post as troll.

Re:lame modding (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653233)

Those who understand Physics or Chemistry understand that energy is never created in a system, it can only be transferred to it.

Indeed. Good job we orbit a giant nuclear reactor that is constantly putting energy into our non-closed system here on Earth.

Re:This has to have some long term effect... (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652685)

Congratulations! This has to be the dumbest thing I have ever read on here. And I have been reading for a long long time. I hope you make sure you stay indoors when it is windy...you might be responsible for global warming! We might want to get rid of those nasty tree things too...all they are doing is sucking our wind dry!

hmmm (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652197)

I may not be an electrician but I do know that water and electricity don't mix and you can't effectively/safely beam the power in wirelessly so you gotta run a biiiiig cord with a lotttt of amps running through it through the ocean. Btw saltwater conducts better than normal water lol. I don't even want to know what would happen if a line like that fully shorted out. I'm thinking the electrolysis would cause enough hydrogen to be split off that the heat could ignite it and cause a small explosion. How do I know? I've seen small scale electrical shorts blow test tubes up during electrolysis experiments. It wasn't pretty...pretty cool but not pretty.

Re:hmmm (1)

barry_the_bogan (976779) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652289)

I'm not an electrician either, but I know there is a cable being built (maybe finished by now) connecting the Victorian and Tasmanian power grids (two states of Australia separated by water, if you're unfamiliar). Other people could probably point you to other examples too, but I think undersea electrical transmission is a solved problem.

Re:hmmm (1)

Malekin (1079147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652735)

Construction of the the Basslink cable has long since been completed - it's been in operation for about a year and a half now.

No explosion risk (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652427)

There is already an undersea cable carrying significant power between France & GB. AFAIK, it uses DC transmission not AC.

I would guess that this might be the solution for the farms in the north sea. Send it ashore in DC form and then turn it into AC and synchronize it with the Grid onshore. Sort of much like the existing gas(natural not petroleum) transmission networks.

Re:No explosion risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653231)

There is already an undersea cable carrying significant power between France & GB. AFAIK, it uses DC transmission not AC.
You're correct. I believe it has trains running underneath it.

Mmm breezy (2, Funny)

OzRoy (602691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652261)

At least the windmills will keep the beaches cool in summer...

Re:Mmm breezy (5, Funny)

Faluzeer (583626) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652367)

"At least the windmills will keep the beaches cool in summer..." In the UK we do not need help to keep our beaches cool in summer...

Not really. (0)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652487)

You're mixing windmills up with fans. Fans use power to strengthen wind. Windmills weaken wind to create power.

Re:Mmm breezy (3, Funny)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652499)

Windmills do not work that way!

Re:Mmm breezy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652509)

Hmmm... what's that whooshing noise overhead?

Re:Mmm breezy (0, Troll)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653021)

<morbo>WIND MILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!</morbo>

Lameness Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Ut purus ligula, mattis ut, elementum ut, vestibulum quis, metus. Suspendisse pharetra, ligula quis consequat tincidunt, est mi adipiscing nunc, non imperdiet est dolor tempor urna. Morbi nisl risus, lobortis quis, lacinia id, tincidunt vitae, mauris. Donec eget lacus eget ipsum auctor dictum. Etiam dapibus dui id neque. Sed scelerisque nunc ut quam. Sed ac dolor. Suspendisse diam nunc, venenatis quis, consectetuer et, sagittis in, odio. Sed molestie enim. Ut sodales mattis dui. Sed erat ante, tincidunt eget, rutrum ut, adipiscing in, pede. Ut nec massa. Curabitur vitae neque nec tellus auctor porttitor. Fusce euismod orci at metus.

Re:Mmm breezy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653033)

Morbo: Windmills do not work that way! Goodnight!

Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work (2, Insightful)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652275)

(*) It will be fought by entrenched fishing interests

(FWIW it is my firm belief that this phrase should become the next Slashdot meme.)

Re:Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't w (4, Insightful)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652357)

No, it won't. The North Sea is pretty much fished out, and a combination of "no fish" and draconian quota restrictions brought in to try to help the remainder to recover has lead to there being very few commercial fishing fleet left in the UK. The remaining couple of dozen of inshore trawlers don't exactly have the government in their back pockets.

Re:Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't w (1)

AcidPenguin9873 (911493) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652949)

Sigh. I would have thought my quip about memes would have tipped off the mods and potential repliers. My original post was a reference to this post [slashdot.org] , which itself was a refernce to this joke [craphound.com] , both of which are meant to be funny, not serious.

Re:Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't w (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21653253)

yes, but you did it wrong

Yawn (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652607)

How much political or public sway to the "entrenched fishing interests" have?

Three fifths of bugger all I'd expect.

In the long run a large area which is never fished will probably have a rather positive effect on fish "restocking" levels.

Re:Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't w (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652711)

(*) It will be fought by entrenched fishing interests

(FWIW it is my firm belief that this phrase should become the next Slashdot meme.)
That's unlikely to happen, as it will probably be fought by entrenched phishing interests...

Good news! (5, Interesting)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652315)

The only way I can view us solve the energy crisis and its effects is:

1) Phase out coal and fossil thermal plant. Fossil fuel will be reserved for things like airplanes or other moving equipment because of its high energy density (13 KWh/kg for gasoline compared to 0.14 KWh/kg for flywheels and 0.04 KWh/kg for batteries). It will slowly become obvious that it is silly to use fossil fuel for stationary equipment like power plants.
2) Use existing hydro infrastructure
3) Use wind
4) Use solar
5) Use nuclear
6) Etc..
In short, let's not put all our eggs in the same basket. This way if one way to get energy fails, we still have alternatives. Let's not pretend we are infallible and that we will get it right the first time with a single approach.

I have problems with a recent article on /. saying we should only use nuclear because other ways can't meet the "base load". Funny how scientists can sometime ignore simple principle like "do not put all your eggs in the same basket".

Re:Good news! (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652495)

Well, and I have a problem with the fact that people assume that wind can't provide base load. If your target area is big enough, there will always be wind. If there's no wind in the UK, there will certainly be wind in Norway or Portugal. There are always High-pressure and Low-pressure areas, with wind spiralling from the former to the latter.

Re:Good news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652545)

Sure, you just need to take responsibility for replacing every single km of power cable with super conductor and find the power to cool them to work. Not going to work too well otherwise.

Re:Good news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652953)

I2R

google it as I-squared R if you don't understand it...

Re:Good news! (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653183)

UK-Norway or UK-Portugal is about 2-3000 Km, which is still in range for a long range high-power transmission-line. ( as i understand it, 7000 Km is about Max economically feasible. - that's about the distance Washington-SanFransisco AND BACK)

Re:Good news! (1)

o'reor (581921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652565)

You forgot one, probably the most important :

0) Use low-consumption electric appliances, enhance energy efficiency in every aspect of modern life and industrial development.


The rise of energy prices will probably drive us towards that trend anyway.

Re:Good news! (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652639)

Of course, consuming energy more smartly is a must also ;-)

I was strictly giving a list of power-sources, you could add some like tidal, geothermal, etc.

For me the most important thing is to "diversify" to mitigate the risks and impacts ;-)

Re:Good news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21652737)

Er...yeah hydro isn't gonna pick up in the uk, apart from being a small country with only a few areas suitable, the areas suitable tend to be either stunningly beautiful, national parks or areas of special scientific interest, as it happens most of the offshore winds are pretty much constant, taking them together (with enough) you could workout a fixed baseload (see how I'm using that same word again in a slightly different manner) , then you just have to worry about the deficit, where the real problem lies, and we can go back to your suggestions.

I like the way you think, but this problem needs to be solved uniquely for every country, some countries prefer nuclear (France) some geothermal (greenland - I think?) and america prefers the environmentally damaging, but very effective hydroelectric power.

Re:Good news! (2, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653261)

let's not put all our eggs in the same basket

You must be new here

Story update (5, Informative)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652347)

Since I submitted the story on Sunday, they've actually made the announcement [bbc.co.uk] (on Sunday, it was just being heavily trailed in the press.)

Maintenance requirements? (5, Interesting)

compumike (454538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652505)

Denmark's Horns Rev [wikipedia.org] wind farm, which I believe is the world's largest offshore wind farm, was built in 2002. They had incredible maintenance issues with the turbines and electronics, due to the harsh environment with salt water. In fact, they cite 75,000 maintenance trips -- each requiring an engineer to be lowered down from a helicopter onto a turbine's nacelle platform -- in the first 1.5 years of operation. That's a lot for 80 wind turbines. And that was very expensive. Hope they get this right in the UK.

--
Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

Re:Maintenance requirements? (2, Informative)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652623)

Well the UK already has at least 1 offshore windfarm at Kentish Flats [kentishflats.co.uk]
Granted it's only 30 turbines.

Re:Maintenance requirements? (1)

VVrath (542962) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652819)

I can see at least another 30 [npower-renewables.com] from my bedroom window on a clear day.

Come to think of it, isn't the wind farm off Walney Island (Barrow in Furness way) 30 turbines too?

Re:Maintenance requirements? (1)

sortia (1191847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653113)

Yep and have also had gear box problems [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Maintenance requirements? (1)

mxf8bv (118038) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652837)

1.5 years are ~500 days. That's 80*500=40,000 Turbinedays.
You cite 75,000 maintenance trips.
So you're saying they visited each turbine twice a day on average? From a helicopter?
Either you got the numbers wrong or they should have camped up there.

Re:Maintenance requirements? (1)

coffii (76089) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653169)

> So you're saying they visited each turbine twice a day on average? From a helicopter?

Maybe the engineers kept getting diced in the turbine blades?

The Real Question (0)

Budenny (888916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652631)

Can't find an answer to what seems to be the real question. After they get through building this thing, these 8,000 turbines, and after we take account of total running costs in terms of fuel, how much fuel is going to be saved? It only works, right, if they burn less afterwards than before, and this has to include trips out to service them, maintenance crews on the transmission lines and shore based units, the whole current energy budget.

So what's the answer? Now we are using X tons or btus of oil, coal, gas or whatever to generate a given megawattage. Then we will be using Y and still get the same megawattage.

I suspect there is no answer to be found, because it will turn out Y is actually larger than X. You may feel a whole lot better and get a warm national glow from 'going green', but the reality will not be energy saving. OK, this could be wrong, but then lets see the numbers.

Numbers (2, Interesting)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652873)

UK Demand 2007 = 358 TWh
Estimated UK Demand 2020 = 381 TWh
Increase in demand = 23 TWh
Vesta V80 2MW wind turbine will make about 0.006666666 TWh in a year. V80's are used at North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm.
3451 Vesta V80 will be required to meet the increase in demand.
This does not cover the loss of some coal-fired power stations after 2015.

Currently, there are 155 wind farm projects in the UK, with 1,900 turbines making around 6.4 TWh. The average makes around .003376295 TWh in a year, about half a V80. So increasing the efficiency of all wind turbines to average a V80 would be an accomplishment.

57151 Vesta V80 would be required to make the 381 TWh in 2020. Over 7 wind turbines each mile of coastline.

All errors above were possibly intentional.

Re:Numbers (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653067)

Very interesting. How much energy, people, money is is going to take to keep 10,000 V80's going offshore? Are there any estimates?

stop this nonsense (2, Insightful)

e70838 (976799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21652919)

All this is crap: wind turbines cost a lot to produce, need a lot of copper which production is very poluting and the amount of energy produced is always bellow estimations. The only purpose of wind turbine farms is to get subventions and fiscal advantages, there is no ecological justification and once this will become obvious to everybody, the subventions and fiscal advantages will disapear and we will stop this nonsense.

Power stransmission? (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653005)

And what'd be the power trasmission medium? Copper cables?
Ah ah ah ah!

NOT enough to generate 20% of the UK's power need (2, Informative)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653029)

Ministers want 20% of Britain's energy needs to come from renewable energy sources by 2020, and see wind power as a major element of it - BBC.
That 20% figure is for all renewable sources, not just wind. For example a tidal barrage across the Severn River [wikipedia.org] might produce several percent of this.

Correction to summary (2, Interesting)

master811 (874700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21653157)

No, Its 20% of HOMES, not 20% of entire power usage - I'm not sure if thats how it was intended but I certainly read it as not including industry and the like (which is still gonna be a huge amount).
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