World’s largest floating windfarm gets ok in Scotland

Hywind Scotland

Hywind Scotland will begin building what will become the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm. The initial pilot project will consist of five turbines generating 30 MW, capable of powering nearly 20,000 homes.The wind farm will be 12 miles offshore, presumably far enough out that NIMBYs with delicate sensibilities will not be able to complain about it.

Floating turbines can be sited in deeper water, further offshore, where fixed turbines can not be. Thus, once the technology becomes mature and tested, floating offshore wind turbines can be installed around the planet and will be cost-competitive with carbon-based electricity

The development, known as Hywind Scotland, differs from conventional offshore windfarms by using turbines attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system. The turbines are interconnected by cables, one of which exports electricity from the pilot farm to the shore at Peterhead.

Research from the Carbon Trust has suggest that floating wind concepts could potentially reduce generating costs for offshore developments.

Last month the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) released a report indicating that floating offshore wind could be a credible, cost-effective form of low-carbon energy for the UK by the mid-2020’s.

U.S. creeps towards offshore wind, could start soaring


The United States still has no offshore wind, mostly due to pointlessly complicated permitting regulations coupled with NIMBYs who think renewable energy is just a wonderful idea so long as they don’t have to look at it. However, the very first U.S. offshore wind, the Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island, is finally being built. Output will be a wee little 30 MW, enough for about 30,000 homes. By the end of this decade there might be 3.3 GW of offshore wind operational, says the government. That would be a huge improvement, even as some of the largest coal and natural gas plants produce that much power on their own. However, big potential is certainly there, especially off New Jersey and North Carolina.

According to the report [PDF], as of June 20, 2015, there were 21 US offshore wind projects in the project pipeline, representing 15,650 MW of offshore wind. Breaking that down, 13 projects totaling 5,939 MW have achieved site control or a more advanced phase of development, and approximately 3,305 MW are aiming for commercial operation by 2020.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued 5,768 MW of offshore wind leases, with a total value of $14.5 million, as well as identifying wind energy areas in New Jersey and North Carolina totaling nearly 9,000 MW of additional potential capacity that has yet to be auctioned.

The UK has by far the most offshore wind of any nation, especially in Scotland. The West Coast waters get too deep too fast for turbines to be practical. The  East Coast, with its shallow waters, is ideal for offshore turbines. Let’s hope it happens.

Intel installs micro wind turbines on HQ roof, for testing, power

Intel micro wind turbines

Intel has installed 58 small wind turbines on the roof of their Santa Clara headquarters to help power the building and to test renewables. The turbines are manufactured by JLM Energy, 6-7 feet tall, weigh 30 lbs., and sited on the edge on the building to gather the most wind, which averages 8-9 mph. Intel, an industry leader in using renewables, also has solar on the roof, and is the largest voluntary user of renewable energy in the country.

Intel has installed 58 micro-turbines atop the roof of their headquarters in Santa Clara, California, in what is a two-fold project aiming at providing renewable energy for the building, as well as acting as a proof of concept project, “in which Intel hopes to collect data that will help the company better understand green power and identify ways to continue evolving its sustainability programs.”

Global wind power growing fast, led by China


Total worldwide wind power capacity is now 370 GW. 50 GW was installed in 2014. China led the way with 23 GW of new wind power, and has 31% of total world wind power, followed by the US at 18%. China is, uh, blowing past us.

These totals are from the comprehensive Global Wind Report for 2014 from the Global Wind Energy Council (PDF).

2014 was a great year for the wind industry, setting a new record of more than 51 GW installed in a single year, bringing the global total close to 370 GW. We knew there would be a substantial recovery last year, but nobody predicted that China would install 23 GW of new wind power alone (another record). Elsewhere in Asia, India had an unspectacular year, but we expect great things from India in the coming 5-10 years as the new government’s renewables push gets underway; and there were significant new installations in Pakistan and the Philippines, helping Asia to once again lead all regional markets and pass Europe in terms of cumulative installed capacity


Google testing airborne tethered wind turbines

Makani airborne tethered wind wurbine
Google X will soon be testing a 84-foot version of their Makani airborne wind turbine. It flies at 1,500 feet altitude, where wind speeds are much faster, and is tethered to the ground. Wind at altitude is also considerably more variable than on the ground, especially where the test will be, and Google says they want a few crashes so they can determine just how far the devices can be pushed. Each one can generate a not insubstantial 600kW.

The energy kite simulates the tip of a wind turbine blade, which is the part of a turbine that makes most of the energy. The kite is launched from the ground station by the rotors, which act like propellers on a helicopter. Once in the air, the kite generates power by flying in large circles where the wind is strong and consistent. Air moving across rotors mounted on the kite forces them to rotate, driving a generator to produce electricity, which travels down the tether to the grid.