New California Gold Rush beckons wind developers off coast
by Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg News (excerpts)
When turbines start spinning at the first U.S. offshore wind farm near Rhode Island later this year, some energy developers will already be eyeing a bigger prize….
…The technology is in its early days. Globally, there are just 15.33 megawatts of floating wind capacity, mostly coming from a handful of pilot projects involving one or two turbines, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That's less than a percent of the total 11.6 gigawatts of capacity from traditional wind projects in waters around the world….
…Offshore wind projects aren't free from environmental criticism. Fishermen and conservationists have warned that some projects could disturb seabirds, marine mammals and fish spawning grounds.
But the major challenge is cost. Floating wind could cost around $8.95 million per megawatt by 2020 - more than double the $4.03 million per megawatt projected for conventional offshore, bottom-fixed wind projects - said BNEF analyst Tom Harries….
Floating turbine foundations cost about eight times more than seafloor-based supports for their conventional counterparts, according to BNEF. But they can be reused to support replacement turbines when old ones reach the end of their quarter-century lifespan.
(IQ Test: Do you believe that?)
"Every 20 or 25 years, no matter what you do, you have to replace the turbine," said Habib Dagher, executive director of the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center. Since the biggest expenses of offshore wind projects are foundations and associated infrastructure - not the turbines - floating designs that allow reuse of those expensive structures are more cost-effective….
(Yeah right. After floating in salt water for 25 years, the barge will be ready to float for another 25 years. The whole enterprise is being financially justified by this absurd claim.)
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