LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

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Friday, August 08, 2003

Wind Expert Questions Offshore Wind

Noted wind expert Robert Thresher of the National Wind Technology Center has some questions about the still unproven durability of offshore wind plants, as reported in
Wind Power Expert: Offshore Turbines Riskier Than Onshore
, Doreen Leggett (Townonline.com), 8/7/03. According to Thresher, most studies of wind generation turbines have been on land and do not necessarily show how projects will fare offshore:

"With offshore, it's still really risky," [Thresher] said. And that risk is compounded because it costs 30 percent to 50 percent more to construct turbines offshore than on land.Offshore turbines have been constructed in Europe, especially Denmark, and there is ever-increasing data and modeling on how well they stand up to ocean weather and tides, Thresher explained. "But what about the big blow?" he asked. "The poor wind turbine is out there. Extreme events (we) can't model too much. How big a wave do you have to design to?"

Still, siting all wind farms on land is no solution - because in places like North Dakota, where the wind resources are ample, there's a lack of tranmission lines to get power to load centers. Thresher estimates it would take 20 to 30 years to construct a grid system to meet the 33 percent goal. By contast, offshore projects are sited near the coasts, where most people live. For that reason, Thresher remains interested in the offshore option, pointing to a European Union study that identified waters off China and the United States as most suited to wind farms.


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