We are most
accustomed to seeing power generation windmills on dry land, here in
the USA. In Europe, some are on land and some are offshore.
They generally are considered eyesores. Myself, I
think they are beautiful. I love to see them up on a ridge,
turning away, churning out megawatts for our energy-hungry populace.
Would I want one in my back yard? Sure. In fact,
there is a fair probability that I will put one there, if it won’t
alienate my neighbors too much.
But there’s the rub. Despite the fact that I think they are
aesthetically pleasing, most people do not. Now,
the Norwegian energy concern, Norsk Hydro,
and the German electrical/electronics engineering firm, Siemens,
are exploring the possibility of building floating windmills for power
generation without the aesthetic problem…
to Deutsche Welle, it is
possible that the first units will be up and running in 2009:
hopes to have a prototype operating in the North Sea by 2009. It is
projected to cost 200 million Norwegian kroner (25.2 million euros or
$34.3 million), although the project’s finances have yet to be agreed
Hydro has already spent 30 million kroner on developing its floatation
technology. Siemens says it will spend several million euros on the
project over the next two years.
If all goes well, the partnership is hoping to have an off-shore wind
energy field set up by 2013, using 5 megawatt wind turbines…
The idea is that they could be used to power offshore oil rigs, or
shoreline communities. My question is, what would you do with
the whole conglomeration of an oil rig and its accompanying windmills,
once the oil runs out? That is a big investment.
I don’t know, I’m not an engineer, but I had a thought while
getting to sleep last night: reconfigure the oil rigs to be electroylic
In order to make hydrogen, you need two things: electricity, and water.
The only major byproduct is oxygen, something few people find
objectionable. The thing is, if you use seawater, you end up
with all the salt and other stuff, but that would not be a problem in
Producing hydrogen at sea does leave you with a problem: how do you get
the hydrogen to where it is needed? Would the pipelines used
for oil work? I don’t know. But there could be
If the global economy is to continue, we need to figure out how to
operate cargo ships without fossil fuel. Could it be done
with hydrogen? Again, I don’t know, but it seems feasible.
You would need a lot of it, though. So the answer
would be to use the oil platforms as fueling stations for
hydrogen-powered ships. That might not be a perfect solution,
since, ideally, the fueling stations would be on major shipping lanes.
How easy is it to move an oil rig?
Clearly, there would be problems to solve. I don’t know how
feasible it would be. But one thing has become clear in the
debate over the solutions to the peak oil
problem. That is, there is not going to be one
single solution, nor should there be.
The ideal solution will involve power generation from a variety of
sources, in widely-distributed locations. The more
distributed the power generation capacity is, the harder it will be for
anyone to disrupt, as from terrorism or natural disasters.
Also, the more varied it is, the harder it will be for anyone
the corner the market, or to manipulate the market.
So, there is potentially something in this for everyone. Free-marketSocial
justice advocates should like the idea that no one could
centralize control of the energy market. Homeland security
advocates should like the idea of having a system that has no central
points, where a substantial part of the system could be disrupted.
advocates should like the idea that transoceanic
shipping can be sustained. Advocates of economic
stability should like the idea of having an energy sector
that is not so susceptible to dramatic up and down swings.
enthusiasts should like the idea of a market that with true
competition. should like the idea of renewable,
minimally-polluting energy generation.