California offshore winds show promise as power source

Offshore wind peaks in the evening when power demands are greatest and other renewable energy sources are less available

CALIFORNIA POLYTECHNIC STATE UNIVERSITY

Research News

IMAGE: THE CENTRAL COAST OF CALIFORNIA MAY BE A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR AN OFFSHORE WIND FARM SIMILAR TO THIS ONE IN SCOTLAND, view more CREDIT: YI-HUI WANG AND BEN RUTTENBERG

As California aims to provide 60% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2045, a study from California Polytechnic State University provides some good news. Offshore winds along the Central Coast increase at the same time that people start using more energy — in the evening.

One of the challenges of moving toward fully renewable energy is matching production to demand. Though the state has high existing solar energy capacity and the potential for even more, the supply of solar power peaks in the middle of the day and ends when the sun goes down. Consumer demand, on the other hand, peaks in the evening when people return from work around or after sunset.

Because storage of solar energy on a large scale is not yet practical, other renewable sources are needed to meet the Golden State’s environmental milestone of going fully renewable.

The Cal Poly research team found that offshore winds are strongest when demand is greatest, making it an ideal candidate to fill the gap left by solar and on-shore wind energy production. The team was led by research scientist Yi-Hui Wang and included biology professors Ben Ruttenberg and Crow White and physics Professor Ryan Walter.

“The alignment between potential offshore wind power production and demand highlights the important role that offshore wind energy could play in meeting California’s ambitious renewable energy goals,” Wang said.

Even more promising, offshore winds reach their peak during the hot summer months when state energy use is highest due to the use of air conditioning. Offshore wind energy offers several other advantages over land-based wind and solar energy, including stronger and more consistent winds and less impact on other land uses.

The greatest wind speeds, which would produce the most energy, are found farther from the coast. Most existing offshore wind farms are installed close to shore in shallow water less than 160 feet deep. However, several floating wind farms in deeper water farther from shore are now in operation in Europe, with more in the planning stages.

“Floating offshore wind farms are now a proven technology and game-changer in many respects,” Walter said. “These floating platforms make offshore wind farms a new reality in many locations, with a single turbine having the potential to power more than 10,000 homes.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which funded the study, is considering the Central Coast as a location for California’s first offshore wind farm and has proposed priority areas for leasing by energy companies. The Cal Poly study provides crucial information that, along with other studies on economic, cultural and environmental factors, will help guide the evaluation and planning of offshore wind energy.

“Looking at this wind data in relation to maps of fisheries, whale and seabird activity will help identify locations where offshore wind farms could add the most value and yet have the least impact on local economies and marine wildlife,” White said.

The Cal Poly team is working on the next steps, which include estimating the total amount of electricity wind farms in the area could produce and how these wind farms might affect the broader economy of San Luis Obispo County.

“Ultimately, we hope this information and our ongoing work will inform the conversation, helping the policymakers and citizens of California decide if, how and where to prioritize renewable offshore wind energy,” Ruttenberg said.

###

Links:

Original study, Spatial and temporal variation of offshore wind power and its value along the Central California Coast, published in IOPscience: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/2515-7620/ab4ee1

153 thoughts on “California offshore winds show promise as power source

  1. “Because storage of solar energy on a large scale is not yet practical”

    Storage technologies are being developed. Maybe just wait until renewable technology is fully developed instead of rushing into it half ass. We aren’t really running out of oil and gas. What’s the rush?

    • Pumped water storage has about the same round trip efficiency as batteries, and once you’ve built it, it lasts a long time. But for some reason that I do not understand, the greenies don’t like it.

      • They’re ok with any technology that doesn’t actually work or that costs 10-100 times more than technology that has been working perfectly for a century. Either way, scarce, massively-expensive energy forces everybody but the elite to live primitive lives and causes the newly-desperately-poor to view socialism as their salvation.

        Hydropower is bad because it is reliable and inexpensive. The cover story is that it disrupts habitats, etc. If this were the real reason, cutting down forests in wilderness areas to build bird and bat k!lling machines would be a far worse disruption.

        Nuclear power is bad because it is reliable and inexpensive. The cover story is fear-mongering about radiation risks.

        Natural gas is bad because it is reliable and inexpensive. The cover story is Climate Emergency!

        • What you describe is the Progressive War on the Middle Class. The elites expect to be immune from the consequences. The poor expect to get subsidized. The middle class gets most of the consequences and the bill.

        • “Hydro is bad because it isn’t natural”…no matter how much people value the beauty and the recreational attributes and the reliable low cost power generation and desperately needed water resources it provides.

          But apparently covering an area the size of Texas with toxic materials and bird killing machines that absorb solar and wind energy is NATURAL.

          Any rational observer can see the insanity of the Greens that don’t do sensible “green” things…they choose the worst green options and obstruct the… BY FAR… safest and greenest energy sources…hydro and nuclear.

          California has dodged it’s historically NORMAL 20 to 200 year droughts the last ~800 years. But “Science Says” build lots of Hydro now, or suffer likely future disaster…and the power and water and recreational resources are needed NOW.

          California’s tech folks know how to plan rationslly based on factual risks, but the anti-environmental anti-human “Greens” want the power to rule and jerk the population around more than they want anything else.

        • Rich,
          Don’t forget that the elites’ cronies can get incredibly rich by selling Unreliable Energy to the great unwashed masses! Of course they are unwashed due to water and electrical shortages brought about the same failing Green policies that allow our lords and masters to receive lots of kickbacks and bribes, er, I mean campaign contributions and book deals!
          Nothing to see here, move along! No crimes committed, or at least no intent!

      • “Pumped water storage has about the same round trip efficiency as batteries, and once you’ve built it, it lasts a long time.”

        Pumped water storage is great IF you have the geography for it. You need a mountainous region with natural basins at a good height. If you have that, it can be cost-effective. If you don’t, you need to factor in the cost of building a mountain….

          • Not that much. The water is not expended in pumped storage, it is pumped upwards, it flows downwards, it stays in the system. And it doesn’t have to be freshwater. There are of course considerable evaporation and leakage losses, but not as much you might guess.

          • If there is no source of water nearby, then you either have to build a pipeline to bring it in or bring it in by train or truck. You also have to build two reservoirs, one above the pump and one below.
            Beyond that you have to replace water lost to evaporation, in desert regions that amount can be large.
            Salt water increases maintenance costs.

      • Try to license a new pumped storage facility through all of the federal, state and local requirements that have jumped up in the last 30 years. Got a spare decade or two?

      • About the same round trip efficiency as batteries? Do you have some studies to support that? Everything I have read puts the round trip efficiency for pumped storage less than 80%.
        The biggest problem with pumped storage is that the number of suitable sites is very small and most of them aren’t near population centers.

        • The efficiency for Dinorwig is quoted at 74-76%, and that installation dates from the 70s. A new installation should certainly achieve about 80%. There are those who say that 87% is obtainable for new installations.

          As batteries are quoted at 75% to 90%, and the efficiency deteriorates with use for all forms of battery that I have read about, PWS does pretty well.

          • Do you have any documentation to support your belief that pumps have become dramatically more efficient in the last 50 years?
            Pumps and generators are mature technologies and have been for decades.
            Frictional drag from the walls of the tunnels the water is pumped is unlikely to have improved much either.

          • There is a theoretical limit. To extract all the energy requires that the water gushing out of the final turbine does so at zero speed.

            Obviously that isn’t much of a gush. The way to up efficiency is to use big pipes and a slow flow, and a huge turbine, but that gets damned expensive, and there are other losses in big turbines.

        • Most pump efficiency has come from hooking up VFD’s to them so you get what you need when you need it and nothing more. In other words it will ramp up and down as needed to meet demand. A pump that needs to run at 100% capacity to accomplish the job will not pick up any efficiency by adding a VFD, at that point the VFD is an expensive soft start feature. Just a guess on my part but I would assume a pump storage facility would need to move large amounts of water which means the pumps would be running at 100% of the time, no efficiency gains from using a VFD.

          As for pump storage facilities themselves. Per a college course I took, at least here in the US the number of locations that are suitable for dams that don’t already have a dam across it is incredibly small and shrinking. Man has already ran around and dammed up what he could for water storage and power generation. What’s left is mostly unsuitable for various reasons like not enough elevation drop, ground that isn’t stable or plain old just to far away from anything or anyone.

          I’ll use Oregon as an example as I know it. Look at a map and you’ll see a lot of large dams located in the Cascade mountain range, good location for dams. Now look at how many large dams are in the Coast range, good luck finding them. Oregon Coast range is notorious for it’s land slides which regularly close the roads. Not good dam building mountains but if you don’t know the geology you would drive through them wondering why there wasn’t dams.

    • For my one vote here in the USA, I encourage wholeheartedly the pursuit of innovation — and, I believe that most others, that is, those who do not lament of the loss of buggy-whip maker jobs, do the same — but what I am against TOTALLY, in this continuing national and global competition, is our govt’s un-Constitutional audacity in picking WINNERS AND LOSERS.

      Picking winners and losers is killing our democracy; and, what is found in at least the great majority of cases, is when our govt does it, such is not for maximum efficiencies, but, rather, for political expediencies … with an especially strong emphasis on self-serving.

  2. Even more promising, offshore winds reach their peak during the hot summer months when state energy use is highest due to the use of air conditioning.

    What year, what month, what week, what day?

    I am really surprised if that turns out to be general. Most of July in Denmark was hot, with the CF down in single digits most of the time 24 hours a day.

    It is almost too good to believe, maybe even cherry picking and wishful thinking.

    Another problem is life expectancy. Assuming an optimistic 20 years, before maintenance becomes overwhelming, the whole charade needs to be redone. Do we want to slander our fossil fuels to this wasteful and expensive business?

  3. The authors say:

    “Floating offshore wind farms are now a proven technology and game-changer in many respects,” Walter said. “These floating platforms make offshore wind farms a new reality in many locations, with a single turbine having the potential to power more than 10,000 homes.”

    Reading this, I’d suggest that the authors have never been offshore in a fair-weather gale … I’ve been through a couple, and I can tell you that being on a barge full of windmills in a fair-weather gale would be a life-threatening experience. It is NOTHING like the seas off of Scotland that the article compares it to. It is found few places in the world and the waves are insane.

    Here’s a story of one of my voyages through a fair-weather gale, describing what it is and why it is so powerful. Not a place for windmills, barges, or barges full of windmills …

    w.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/03/02/in-which-i-finally-understand-the-fair-weather-gale/

    • Yes, Willis.

      And even in the comparitively shallow North Sea where the floating windmills are being trialled, no-one knows how they will stand up to a northerly force 11 blowing uninterrupted from around Svalbard. I saw the pipelaying barge Choctaw in such weather.She was shipping green water over the pipe deck and she was many times bigger than what is proposed here, which I understand will be a bit bigger than a lightship with a windmill on a pole on top. How you would moor one of these in deep water off your coast I don’t know.
      In addition, I would think that even in a low easy swell, the oscillation at the top of the windmill would destroy the mechanism quite quickly.

      Stay safe and sane.

        • Yes Griff you are correct. It’s called the Windfloat Atlantic Project and total wind in Partugal is currently generating a massive 250MW (1900 hours) out of a potential 4400MW

          Woohoo! Go Portugal

      • The North Sea being shallow, the waves in bad weather can be short and steep, and so unlike open ocean waves. In my days as a mud logger, there was a a design for a tension-leg production platform by an operator I shan’t name. They were feeling pleased with the design until someone pointed out that the wave profile used in the tank testing was open-ocean. They shortened the wavelength to match the North Sea conditions and re-tested. Bingo, the waves erupted between the sections of the platform and they had to go back to the drawing board.
        My own experience of the foulest weather was North-West of Shetland in April, and big gale from the North West, huge seas. Anchored semi-submersibles don’t move like ships, and there’s a lot of lag, so watching the on-coming waves from the radio room was a bit disconcerting . No sky visible and a huge wall of advancing grey water. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.
        The idea that floating moored wind turbines can be deployed economically when conditions can be that savage just baffles me.

        • Hi Sonofametman,

          Only ever sat in a mudlogging cabin on fixed platforms in the North Sea, but I’ve seen those waves and feel you barf-bag’s pain. In my case it’d likely be the chap laundering my shreddies who’d be in pain when the sea-state got up a bit.

          The picture accompanying the article looks supiciously like Hywind Scotland and this type of floating turbine isn’t like a semi-sub or a barge as I think Willis suggested earlier, this is in effect a miniature spar platform with a whirlygig stuck on top. The spar is ballasted below water line like a yacht’s keel to resist the urge to capsize when the wind blows against what is effectively a disc shaped spinacker on top and in theory it bobs vertically up and down over swell without much rolling or lateral movement. The spar is moored with suction anchors to stop it taking a scenic cruise on the tides and currents.

          Aside from generating crap energy at the vagaries of breezes and having to replace the blades at sea when wind blown spray delaminates the leading edges, the biggest ball ache will be erecting them, since the subsidy mining industry is really only proficient at doing this with the turbine stading up. That’s easy enough on dry land when the foundation has already been poured, or when you have a handy sheltered deep water fjord to accomodate the ballasted base of the spar, but I’m not sure where one would would find a fjord in California. Maybe the authors of the article while gushing about the consistent high winds figure protracted low wind,low swell weather windows occur in which to erect the floating whirlygigs out in the open sea?
          Wiring up a ‘farm’ of floating whirlygigs far out at sea and getting the ‘lecky intermittently to the lucky 10000 houses is also a bit more of a hassle than your average onshore subsidy mining farm, but ‘where there’s a day rate, there’s a way mate’. Just keep reminding rate payers that the wind is free and let the subsidies keep the shareholders happy.

          The next problem they’ll have is finding the money to install telescopes on the beaches because what good are virtue signals if they’re so far out to sea that pious useful idiots can’t see what their tax paying neighbour bought them for Christmas?

          There might also be the question of decomissioning to consider; I wonder if today’s subsidy miners will get a free pass from GreenPr!cks to tow their mini spar platforms out sea and scuttle them when they’re knackered beyond economic/subsidised repair in 15-20 years?

          • I gather that really large crane ships have been built or are under construction for the task of assembling offshore wind turbines.
            I think I recall one of such cranes collapsed catastrophically during testing a few months ago (it was a Liebherr crane and collapsed in Germany, IIRC). I don’t know if the resources spent to build and operate these ships will be counted in the windmills’ EROI.

            The bending moments on the windmill tower for a floating rig in a gale will be nothing short of awesome, they’d better plan to test often and thoroughly for fatigue cracks.

    • The loads imposed on the generator bearings from movement of its barge would be large and could be even worse that the loads imposed by wind-speed variation. Bearing lifetime is already limiting to generator lifetime of fixed windmills. Add salt-water corrosion to rocking and rolling generators and I expect the result to be a very short lifetime for barge mounted machines. But doubtless Cal Poly has already assessed these factors in coming to their conclusion. No?

    • I’ve been offshore in heavy weather and it will absolutely make you wish you were somewhere else.

      My prediction is the wind farm gets built, a once in 100 year winter storm (the kind that occurs every 10 years) will hit it and basically the wind farm will sustain so much damage they can’t afford to repair it.

      Low solar years have wavy jet streams and from predictions, we are in for quite a few low solar years in the coming decades. Wavy winter jet streams especially in the North Pacific can produce huge, powerful storms dipping into California’s offshore waters. Wind and water will get you every time.

      I for one hope they build them as long as the other 49 states don’t contribute any $$.

    • Put expensive metal machines in a salt water environment that requires undereaes cable’s — what could go wrong with that?

      My new inventions are much better — nuclear powered fans for onshore windmills. when there is no wind, and nuclear powered spotlights for solar panels at night. I am already spending the millions I plan to earn.

  4. So if I read this correctly:
    1) there is NO quantitative analysis. The winds are said to blow “strongest” – by how much, for how long and how frequently is not indicated.
    2) It doesn’t matter anyway because all the existing windmills are near the shore and the “strongest” winds blow further offshore.

    So it’s just another “look – wind will save us all” puff piece. Or have I missed something?

    • You just have to believe because it’s a good cause and Griff said so … oh wait Griff is always wrong and lying so forgot that bit.

    • Good points, OF. Even where they are “the strongest”, they still will not blow all the time. The need for backup power remains unless you want to have a third-world electric supply.

      • Which Kalifornia apparently already has. This fits right in, allowing them to eliminate reliable energy faster and provoke even more widespread rolling blackouts.

  5. Just don’t put them off Malibu. They’ll mess up the view for the rich and famous. How about Northern California/Mendocino? The ganja industry needs lots of juice.

    • Like hell we need to put them in and around celebrity idiots properties we could start with ones like Jane Fonda’s place. On the plus side they could come home tipsy and a blade could save the world some CO2 from these celebrity lifestyles.

    • Surround the Sacramento Capital and Governors Mansion with Bird Choppers sorry, Windmills, there is an incredible amount of wind from those 2 sources.

  6. Maybe Kalifornia thinks the electric energy from offshore turbines is “special”? Like when this electricity flows through the cables of the electric grid and the winds blow, you don’t have to turn off the electricity flow to prevent cables touching and sparking and starting fires in their mis-managed vegetation?

  7. According to the EIA the “overnight capital costs” of offshore wind are $5,449 dollars per kw vs. $1,260 for onshore wind. Fixed operation and maintenance costs for offshore are $109.5 per kw per year vs. $26.22 for onshore wind.

    The projections for 2050 are just as bad for offshore wind.

    Wind may be free but turning it into electric power is not.

    https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/section_issue_renewables.php

    • There are lots of figures floating around to prove that renewable energy is or isn’t economical. What the capital cost figures don’t cover is the lifespan of the equipment.

      Based on actual data from existing systems, nuclear is still more economical that renewables.

      People are fooled into believing that renewable energy is cheap, even though this notion is based on incomplete information. Initial costs are considered in one chunk, and are never distributed over the lifespan of the technology one wishes to build. For wind and solar energy, this technical lifespan is between 20 and 25 years; Nuclear energy on the other hand, has a technical lifespan of 60 to 80 years. link

      We are faced with a deluge of numbers but some shine through. For instance, adding renewable energy to a large grid seems always to raise the cost of electricity to the consumers. The only exception seems to be for remote areas where the alternative to renewables is diesel generators.

  8. There are plenty of data-based graphs in the full paper and the methods used are pretty standard. However, the absence of economic analysis is critical – and suggests that the authors know little about the engineering and related problems. Floating turbines in the North Sea cost have a capital cost that is roughly twice that of conventional offshore turbines with operating costs that are at least that much higher. The paper assumes 10 MW turbines with a hub heights of 125 metres which is likely to cause problems of stability. Running offshore transmission lines over long distances is another major issue because they are both expensive and (currently) unreliable. The main North Sea floating wind farm achieves a load factor that is 10-15% higher than conventional offshore wind farms that use the same turbines but this improvement is not close to being enough to cover the higher costs. As a previous comment notes, all of the current evidence suggests that they won’t have a life longer than 20 years and that is far too short for such a capital-intensive technology.

  9. I am so looking forward to the reaction when the windfarms start going up off the coast at Santa Barbara and places nearby. All of those rich California trendies will have conniptions. Especially when faced with the reality of renewables in their backyard. It’s only for the peasants to put up with don’t you know?

  10. After several centuries of use and with 50 years of intensive R&D “Shows Promise” is hardly a ringing endorsement.

  11. Renewable energy is impractical and unreliable and a really stupid method of obtaining low carbon power. The obvious future of energy is SMR molten salt nuclear reactors, from companies such as Moltex Energy.
    Wind power is a 16th century technology and no amount of batteries , which only can STORE rather than generate power, can correct. There is no intelligent reason to pursue inherently inferior means of producing power. Renewable folks are old to lunch. They’re just plain dumb, as in stupid, ignorant, clueless. Iwould like to hear any of these anti nuclear folks detail how molten salt Gen 4 nuclear technology has any similarity to conventional nuclear power, other than the word “nuclear.”

    • Perhaps.

      but no SMRs (and no thorium rectors) yet exist.

      wind turbines exist: UK has 10.4 GW of them installed offshore with twice that amount building or approved.

      ( wind, on and offshore, has supplied up to 59.9% of UK demand this August)

      • “…no SMR’s exist…”
        Small Modular Reactors are a rebranding of ship and submarine reactors, many in use starting in 1955, which is 65 years ago.

        • Come to think of it, why don’t we build them as “shallow” submarines, save the containment dome, anchor them 100 feet underwater connected to cities by undersea power cables, out past the 12 mile zone….etc….Probably someone did the economics on it years ago, but was it before nuclear became too expensive due to protests ?

      • The US Navy has had decades of experience with SMR’s, the question feasibility is economic and not technical.

        • Hi Erik
          “The US Navy has had decades of experience with SMR’s, the question feasibility is economic and not technical.”

          One of my sideline careers was as civilian instructor training Navy Nuclear Officers…so I had the opportunity to work up close and personal with the Navy SMRs…then transitioned to commercial nuke power. Not sure of the current DOE requirements for my 30 year old navy nuke knowledge, but suffice it to say that there is almost no similarities between a Navy SMR and a commercial SMR. Basically a Navy SMR goes from 0 to 100 in battle time (ie really quick), while commercial SMRs (and their bigger brothers) go from 0 to 100 in several days. The design differences are mind blowing.

          The biggest advantage of current commercial SMRs is that they use basically the same fuel elements as the bigger units (saves huge development costs), and they are essentially “walk away”…ie the decay heat (ie power produced by the reactor after it has been shut down) is low enough that no active cooling is required in an emergency (the basic reason Fukushima was such a problem). Between the two, you end up with a much simpler design, and even capital costs…the complexity of having a number of small SMRs vs a big vessel is offset by the lower cost of emergency remediation. I am every hopefully they will see their day!

          Regards,
          Ethan Brand

      • And right now wind is supplying 18%.

        Meanwhile gas powered turbines are producing 51% of the UK demand at about a third of the cost per MWh

        • And that gas powered turbine power would be even less expensive, if it did not have to take a back seat to wind energy.

      • Yes, Griff and all that wind power is contributing 5GW out of a UK requirement of 35GW

        Oh, and the installed capacity of wind is 24GW, so 20% ish

      • Griff that is the best piece of Cherry Picking this year so far, surpasses most of your efforts.

        According to gridwatch
        http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk

        Which takes readings at 5 minute intervals since April 13th 2020, wind has supplied more than 55% of UK demand on 1 (one) occasions , and less than 7.5% on 9588. Meanwhile in the same period Gas has supplied in excess of 55% 7478 times and never less than 7.5% . Most of the high percentages for wind are at periods of low demand.

        Go and check it for yourself , and explain why wind is such a good idea.

    • A less than $10Million company struggling to stay afloat and having to use crowd funding is not going to change the entire worlds power generation even if they had something. Do you know what the term “penny hopeful” means? Jacobs has just got involved with them and has different use for the technology and will absorb the technology and spit them out as they are a well known corporate predator. Earlier this year Jacobs acquired Wood Nuclear, form John Wood Group in the UK.

        • In Denmark, about 30,000 birds were killed by wind turbines in 1997.

          According to research by the ornithological society SEO/Birdlife, each wind turbine kills between 110 and 330 birds a year.

          Wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand recently wrote that the industry has known since the early Eighties that ‘propeller-style turbines’ could never be safe for birds of prey.

          Dr John Etherington, former reader in ecology at the University of Wales said: “It seems to me that for some time now a green faction has penetrated a whole range of bodies and that the RSPB is one of them.”

          The RSPB works hand in glove with bird killing machine developer Ecotricity, and Southern & Scottish Electricity (SSE).

          Conservationist Mark Duchamp, whose international charity Save The Eagles monitors bird deaths caused by wind farms, said: ‘They (the RSPB) are supposed to protect birds. Instead they are advocating on behalf of an industry which kills birds. What could be more wrong and absurd than that?’

          “We have basically added a new apex predator – a wind turbine” said Dr Maria Thaker from the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru.

          • But we don’t use ‘propellor style’ turbines – those were only used in the 80s. That’s the sort of turbines used at Altamont pass and early Spanish windfarms… which I believe are no longer there.

            I would bet that the figures you quote have been extrapolated from the Altamont figure, which were from a uniquely dangerous site, of a location and type not now relevant/in use in the rest of the world

          • griff September 9, 2020 at 9:28 am

            But we don’t use ‘propellor style’ turbines – those were only used in the 80s. That’s the sort of turbines used at Altamont pass and early Spanish windfarms… which I believe are no longer there.

            Every single photo or design for offshore wind (or onshore wind for that matter) looks like a stick with a propeller on top. I have no clue what a non-propellor style windmill might be, other than vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT). But no one is proposing a VAWT for grid supply, they’re all HAWTs. A link to a photo would be useful here …

            And yes, griff, despite your soothing words, offshore wind turbines kill plenty of birds. What, you think birds don’t fly over the ocean?

            w.

        • There was a long study on 2 windfarms offshore in Denmark – they tracked birds in the area with lidar and visual observation. They calculated 1 in 230,000 birds might hit a turbine.

          UK offshore wind requires 1 year of continuous survey of birds in the windfarm footprint. The RSPB organisation has successfully opposed offshore wind where birds used areas fro feeding or wintering.

          Most seabird migration is along and close to coasts: UK does not build in these corridors.

          • And how many of these dead birds are protected species or do you think environmentalists should be given a free ride when it comes to ki11ing protected species not in self-defence?

          • The RSPB has objected to only six per cent of all new wind farm developments.

            When Npower applied to build four wind turbines in the middle of the migratory route of Brent geese in Silloth, Cumbria, birdwatchers begged the local RSPB area representative for help.
            At first the RSPB was supportive and planners rejected the application. But when the developer appealed, the RSPB mysteriously withdrew its objection and the turbines were built.

            ‘Wind farms need to be built where the sea is fairly shallow, sometimes this means they are built on areas which are meant for foraging,’ Gareth Cunningham, the RSPB chief marine policy officer.

            Just off the coast of Scotland, where seabird activity is heightened, planned offshore wind farms include Moray East and Neart Na Gaoithe.

            There is a lack of good data on migration routes and flight behaviour of many of the relevant marine bird species (Drewitt and Langston, 2006; Exo et al, 2003).

            The world’s largest working offshore wind farm covering an area of 145 km² (55 mi²) is situated in the Irish Sea.

            The Isle Of Man, (situated in the middle of the Irish Sea), wildlife charity Manx Bird life has reported (a comprehensive census that took place over two years) a shocking 40% decline in the populations of many species of sea birds around the island’s coast. The report is full of depressing statistics. Herring Gulls are down 82%, European Shag down 51%, Razorbills down 55%.

            Such a high density of turbines in a confined area – an area renowned for its wildlife – has been watched with dismay by many environmentalists, especially since large parts of the sea have been designated Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s), supposedly limiting the scale of industrial development in precious areas that provide important habitat for so many species.

            A 2018 report carried out for the Welsh government suggested that “this protection may not necessarily be a major barrier to new projects”

            ……… and let’s not forget the bats….

            From The Guardian:
            Hundreds of bats are being killed in collisions with wind turbines in the UK each month, despite ecological impact assessments predicting that many windfarms were unlikely to affect such animals, according to a new study.

      • What, because there are no dead seabirds found beneath offshore turbines we can conclude none were killed?

      • That is simply not true. Seabirds will never prevent a new project. «Saving» human existance from global earming trump everything.

  12. Operators of off-shore wind farms are beginning to discover the unavoidable fact that salt water eats the heck out of everything as marine engineers have known for as long as there have been marine engineers. The service lifetime of these machines is likely short and their servicing cost high.

  13. As pointed out above, these will have to be floating bird choppers. The water gets deep very quickly off of most of California. They don’t have a continental shelf. This makes the costs a lot higher. But this was never about making reliable energy affordable. Ask your smartmeter when it turns off your AC to save the grid when overloaded.

  14. “The greatest wind speeds, which would produce the most energy, are found farther from the coast.”

    But, but I thought that wind farms had to shout down when the wind got too strong.

    • 55 mph is the usual shut down figure quoted, but I have seen recently -and annoyingly can’t find again – quotes of 62 to 70 mph on more modern turbines.

      • Try looking at a manufacturers specification sheet.
        https://www.vestas.com/en/products/4-mw-platform/v126-3_3_mw#!technical-specifications

        OPERATIONAL DATA
        Rated power 3,450 kW
        Cut-in wind speed 3 m/s
        Cut-out wind speed 22.5 m/s
        Re cut-in wind speed 20 m/s
        Wind class IEC IIA/IEC IIB
        Standard operating temperature range from -20°C* to +45°C
        with de-rating
        above 30°

        3m/s = 6.71mph
        22.5 m/s = 50.33mph
        20m/s = 44.74mph

        Doesn’t say it in this document but optimum output is not until about 13m/s say 12 or 26.84mph.
        Try cycling at 30mph to get an idea of how fast that is, every time wind drops below 30mph output from a wind turbine drops.

        The maximum wind speed forecast for where I am tomorrow is 4m/s for a couple of hours. Which is the same in the Midlands of England where my family are, and the same in Scotland too. Dusseldorf also showing 4m/s max for tomorrow, so low wind in Europe tomorrow.

  15. I want to see the YT video of the turbine barge in high seas with gale winds. It would be impressive!

    Off the central CA Coast–um…..no. dumb idea. stupid. Floating wind turbines…also no. dumb idea. stupid.

    Cal Poly students need to go over to the dirty science building and speak to the oceanography professors there and ‘float” their idea only to watch it sink like a stone when they learn what’s off the central coast of CA.

    • Not just that, but then tell the oceanography professor you want to build hundreds of these things, each with a bundle of sea bed power cables back to shore, and keep them there 24/7, and if they fail blackouts follow.

      Then go over to the mechanical-marine engineering dept and show them a cartoon drawing of a wind turbine ship that has to be stabilized in a 30 knot wind in 3-4 meter seas while spinning a 80 m diameter 3-blade rotor set at 20 rpm. And everything needs at least a 10 year life expectancy for a suitable return on investment.

      This floating wind turbine stuff in a harsh marine environment stuff is fanciful thinking by poorly educated students and faculty.

  16. This above article is so full of horseshit one would scarcely know where to begin.
    The Hywind project off Scotland uses spar buoys.
    To employ the 50/70 foot deep spar buoys one needs to have a port with shipping channels dredged that deeply … a rarity for US ports.
    Second physical obstacle is freeboard clearance of 200/400 feet if total assembly is to be done in port (the main ‘benefit’ of not doing costly assembly/repairs offshore is to use floaters).
    There are virtually no ports in the US with that kind of clearance.

    The ‘semi submersible floaters being tried now by Spain are so ridiculously cost ineffective as to not merit serious discussion.

    These people have completely lost their capacity for rational thinking.

    • Joe B,
      It’s Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; they have their own rodeo team so there is no shortage of horseshit or bullshit for lots more articles. They also are just a few miles away from Diablo Canyon; which, with a restarted San Onofre, could provide about 6% of Calizuela’s current electricity needs! Just TWO nuclear plants! That are already built! 6%!
      How much were they short thus causing the blackouts, about 5%? Throw in a couple of the recently shut down natural gas plants like Moss Landing and, voila, problem solved!

      • One Hyvind consist of over 4000 tons of steel with chains and anchors included. Hardly an environmently friendly way of producing little and high unstable electricity. I.e. very material, polluting and mining demanding. It will not produce net power and give a net cut in CO2 from cradle to grave. After 20 yrs there is no money for cleaning up the mess. PS must be nice to have trolling as a full time paid job.

  17. Callyfornia pols continue to try to solve non-existent problems….and refuse to move to Cuba which already has everything they desire – Total Government Control.

  18. Let me guess, sea life no longer needs to be protected and deforestation is fine in the name of environmental goals. The birds no longer exist either.

  19. Let’s hope the California permitting process measured in terms of lifetimes is applied to offshore wind as well.

  20. Just more unicorns farts, fairies and rainbows.

    When will they ever learn.
    When will they eeeeever learn.

    ht/ Peter, Paul and Mary

  21. Be sure and extend the high speed rail line to the offshore wind farm. That will help insure mutual success for all. Oh and bring all of the shoreline property owners associations as stakeholders.

  22. “As California aims to provide 60% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2045,”

    If you remove this goal, problem solved. Were there any other actual problems?

  23. Did anyone see this?

    WIND Toolkit is a simulated historic dataset for wind power application developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (https://www.nrel.gov/grid/wind-toolkit.html)….

    And why are we basing estimates of power production magnitudes and schedules, yet again, on model simulations? Because we do not have the observational basis to do so, of course.

    yo, ho, ho. The winds blows free
    Oh for a turbine on the rolling sea

    Right now a prominent wind farm along I-80 is being repowered, about 15 or so years into its life. The hubs, generators, and upper parts of the towers are coming down, and because it is such an excellenet wind resource site, new turbines are going to take thier place. Taller towers, larger diameter blades, and bigger generators. But it will be interesting to see what becomes of the foundations and lower reaches of the towers. These will have to be modified or new foundations built nearby in order to hande the larger static and dynamic loads and overturning moments. Even these old small foundations and appurtenances must be troublesome and expensive to decommission and remove.

    • If the blades are longer, then the towers are going to be further apart. Even if the existing bases were adequate for the taller towers (they aren’t), they still wouldn’t be able to re-use most of the existing bases.

    • This is a bit long winded and obscure, but most of the issues around bases are covered…
      http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/Onshore-Wind-Repowering-Report-November-2018.pdf

      this covers it as far as existing repowering efforts in the UK:
      ‘…where repowering has proceeded (in the UK), original concrete foundations have been reduced to 1m
      below ground level and cabling left in place… In some sites e.g. Carland Cross, the
      old turbine bases are now part of arable field systems and crops are grown over the top, so this
      depth of reinstatement is sufficient for ploughing and cultivation. ‘

      I suspect more repowering has been done in Germany, with possibly bigger turbines. German wind farms do tend to be on arable land at present

      • That’s interesting, but taking out a meter of concrete with rebar is still not easy, and the results are going to be site dependent. Up on these windy ridges they are going to have to armor the ground surface as they replant or the winter winds will simply scour down to the old foundation.

  24. Alas, if only there were already a relatively cheap and extremely reliable form of energy available right now for producing electricity.
    Oh wait! There are 3, actually – nuclear, gas, and coal.
    Problem solved!

  25. From Wikipedia:
    A 2009 Stanford University study of California offshore wind potential identified a site off Cape Mendocino that could provide uninterrupted year-round power from a 1500 MW wind farm that would produce an average of 790 MW.

    Like, old news or what?
    CA only as about 6 MW of installed wind power. It supplies about 5% of CA electricity. What the heck?
    CA has plenty of solar power and it is growing quickly. All they need now is some way to store it.

  26. In the above article is this statement: “Even more promising, offshore winds reach their peak during the hot summer months when state energy use is highest due to the use of air conditioning.”

    This strongly implies that the Cal Poly research team only looked at winds generated by the land-versus-ocean temperature differential (i.e., hot air over land rises and must be infilled by cooler air coming from the nearby ocean).

    So, what about the much higher wind velocities associated with the movements of high and low atmospheric pressure areas and associated weather fronts? These happen continuously but irregularly and cannot be synchronized to times of highest demand for electricity.

    It would have been nice if the researchers had quantified what percentage of yearly average wind energy comes from “offshore winds” versus from other causes.

    “The Cal Poly research team found that offshore winds are strongest when demand is greatest, making it an ideal candidate to fill the gap left by solar and on-shore wind energy production.” Oh, P-L-E-E-E-E-A-S-E! How can anyone make such a sophomoric statement without providing the metric of LCOE $/kWh energy delivered to customers???

    Such fluff.

  27. California needs to be practical, they should be aiming to use unicorn farts instead! They could build unicorn farms right on the spot where the rainbows touch down, which gives an automatic 50% power boost.

    California stands as a bad example for the rest of the country – whatever they do as a state, the other states should not do it! Unless we want to “progress” from nuclear energy with gobs of electricity, to windmills and solar panels that only sort of work if/when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, to candles for light and cow dung for heat and cooking…

  28. I met a traveler from an antique land
    Who said: a rusting column, overgrown
    Stands on a hillside. By it, close at hand
    Half sunk, a long and curving shaft lies prone
    Though crumpled and corroded by the rain
    Its sculptor’s purpose still is plain to see
    A giant windmill, spinning to entrain
    From tortured gearing, electricity
    And on the pedestal these words appear
    “We are the Legion of the Green New Deal
    Look on our ranks, deniers, and despair”
    Nothing beside remains, round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, the meadows fair
    And forests breathing life stretch far away

  29. Pretty interesting observation – question is how many days/weeks/months/years of actual data did the University offer as evidence of this timing theory of – “…Offshore winds along the Central Coast increase at the same time that people start using more energy — in the evening….” Now what about energy use spikes in the morning. I just can’t get past such nonsense. They haven’t predicted anything of value with their Climate Models, but they can predict that Winds go up during the ‘rush hour’. Truly astounding. Is that why CA has been going through days of rolling brownouts and actual blackouts. I just don’t understand these people.

  30. Offshore Central California coast is prone to heavy fog. These monster windmills would constitute a serious hazard to mariners and would be another eyesore that would spoil the magnificent vistas along the coast.

  31. Offshore wind turbines, how to waste billions of dollars to produce intermittent unreliable electricity that will never generate enough power to replace themselves, net result more CO2 then if you hadn’t built them.

  32. Pictures like the one at the top always give the misleading impression that they will build just a handful of windmills when in reality it will end up like Tehachapi California where the landscape as far as the eye can see is forested with hundreds and hundreds of them.

  33. As a Californian, I’d prefer to just keep Diablo Canyon going, and build 10 more. Then we can get rid of every turbine and solar panel in the State – and have 10% leftover to run desalination plants.

  34. The learned people at this University are either unaware or ignore the very real technical deficiencies of wind generation.

    Power output varies as a cube of wind speed so small variations in wind speed bring large variations in power output, not ideal for a power supply.

    Wind generation is asynchronous so cannot support grid frequency. Frequency has to be maintained to close limits (Any deviation beyond + or – 0.2 Hz is classed as a frequency event in the U.K.) These events on the U.K. grid have doubled in the last few years due to an increase in wind capacity connected. Thermal and hydro generations can vary their frequency as load varies to maintain the nominal figure. Wind and solar cannot they merely follow. Therefore the greater the amount of power generated by renewables the less stable the grid becomes and the likelyhood of grid trips increase and as a compounding factor, renewables cannot assist in a restart this extends the duration of the trip.
    Wind and solar have no inertia, unlike large rotating thermal and hydro alternators, this is another characteristic that provides essential stability.

    These deficiencies are well known yet so many governments persist in increasing renewable generation at the expense of reliability.
    That the cost of these renewables overall is higher than conventional generation when all costs are counted is also undisputable despite continued media claims that they are cheaper.

    The power of the agenda driving the expansion of renewables is seemingly so strong it over rides common sense and good engineering practice. As already mentioned, nuclear in it’s varied forms is so obvious but ignored, and even in Germany they are closing viable nuclear plants and France is also planning to shut down some of it’s fleet and increase part time power?

  35. Offshore wind peaks in the evening when power demands are greatest and other renewable energy sources are less available

    No, it doesn’t. https://gridwatch.org.uk

    Because storage of solar energy on a large scale is not yet practical,

    Because storage of any energy on a large scale will never be practical…
    Usual lies backed up by phoney studies to justify yet more virtue signalling profitable but useless whirligigs.

    • There is one type of storage that is practical. Chemical storage. Which is why fossil fuels are so cheap and effective.

  36. How many millions of tons of coal will it take to manufacture an offshore wind farm. How many millions of tons of chemicals will it take to manufacture an offshore wind farm?

    Why can we increase the use of coal and oil to be used by the wind industry? Coal and oil use can increase if the use is for government subsidized, and literally paid for, wind turbines?

Comments are closed.