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Wind Power In Stormy Waters


Offshore Wind Turbine Farms: Ambitious and Beautiful.

Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture

There is nothing like the promise of readily available and bountiful energy in our resource-strapped world. Based on data determining that average wind speeds at sea are higher than on land, the modern offshore wind farms promise to be exceptionally energy efficient. When the weather is calm they also look fetchingly beautiful:

Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Rev Wind Farm panorama (image source)

Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture

But when the seas are rough, the graceful structure is put to the test, and it's not a fact that every turbine will survive:
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture

The Horn’s Reef project, located 14 kilometres off Denmark’s West coast in the North Sea, is located in some of Europe’s roughest waters. (source article)
“There are other offshore wind parks in the world but everybody agrees that Horn’s Reef is the first ’real’ offshore wind park because of its size and its placement in the North Sea. So far, all other offshore parks have been placed close to land in protected waters“ says project manager Jens Bonefeldt. “The North Sea is considered to be one of the roughest stretches of water in the world.”

Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Floating wind turbine.
It is now possible to build offshore wind parks
at sea depths of 200-300 meters.

8 to 10 meter waves are expected at the site
(not counting nasty "global warming" storm surprises)

Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture

Some failed turbine structures (source here):
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, ArchitectureEnergy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture

- One of the turbines failed in spectacular fashion following a lightning strike, the blades disintegrated, hurling debris at speeds approaching 200 mph.
- A whole blade weighing over a tonne became detached from the VESTAS turbine.
- The pictures above show a spectacular failure of a turbine during a storm in Lichtenau, Germany (Thanks to Wilfred Heck for supplying these photographs).

Many Hollywood thrillers show a helicopter chase through the forest of such giant windmills. The havoc produced by the flying blades is usually quite spectacular...
Huge wind farms may be a dream come true, but it's also a challenge to designers and engineers, demanding a combination of experience and new thinking.

Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture


In 2002 the world’s largest offshore wind farm was constructed at the Danish west coast. The Horns Rev wind farm is sited 14-20 km into the North Sea, west of Blåvands Huk, and represents the first phase in the Danish Government’s ambitious plan - to have wind turbines with a total capacity of 4000 MW in Danish waters before 2030.

Thanks to Gunnar Britse, photographer (all rights reserved), we can witness the grandiose operation of setting up a forest of windmills at various Dutch (and Swedish) offshore locations:

Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture

"The world’s first major offshore wind power plant has since December 2002 produced enough energy to run 150,000 Danish households. Eighty 2.0 MW turbines from the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturer Vestas are sited across an area of 20 sq. km." (source) With the Horns Rev project it will be possible to determine whether or not the Danish Government’s ambitious energy plan is feasible. And whether or not the long-bladed Goliaths will survive the harshest of North Sea storms.

Energy, Heavy Machinery, Construction, Architecture
(image via)

More info: 1, 2, 3, 4


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Anonymous alinush said...

wow truly amazing pieces of engineering!

Anonymous Rick said...

They have built a lot of those in my neck of the woods, but I've never seen them out in the water like that. It's amazing how huge they are up close and personal.

Blogger Tiel Aisha Ansari said...

The failed ones look like birds that have flown into someone window, and fallen crumpled to the sidewalk.

Anonymous Anita said...

This is amazing! Nice collection!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too many wind turbines leads to global air slowing

Anonymous fuse13 said...

also, the wind pushing so many turbines actually makes the earth spin faster

Anonymous Poetry said...

spinning energy from hurricanes...
sounds good to me... Now if only someone could figure out how to to all that insufferable heat they have in the south and west every summery. Imagine converting so much solar energy to electricity or hot water that the ambient temperature went down one degree...after all, dissimlar metals release electricity when in contact under heat...

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Fuse13: - LOL

Poetry - converting solar energy will the subject of our next post in this series...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't even mention the idea of Nuclear power... A lot of people worry about the waste, but the fact of the matter is that it's been thought through and it's not a problem. You can eat Uranium cake (the byproduct of nuclear reactions, 99.7% pure uranium) by the spoonful and it won't harm you for years. One scientist even offered to do so until the environmentalists allowed the opening of Yucca mountain's nuclear waste storage facility. This isn't just a waste storage facility, there's also future hopes of refining the uranium cake into more fuel for future use (technology right now doesn't exist, but it may in the future, that's why we keep the stuff). Transportation is also non-hazardous. They shot the storage containers with rockets and they survived, what more do you want?

What about Chernobyl and 3 mile island? 3 mile island was an almost-fuck-up. The most radiation _anyone_ encountered was about that of a chest x-ray (and spread out over a longer period of time). As for Chernobyl, that was a shitty reactor, even by soviet Russia's standards. IIRC, they used liquid graphite instead of water for reactor cooling. Water, as it heats up, makes the reaction less reactive. Graphite, when heated up, makes the reaction _more_ reactive. No wonder the thing melted down.

I'm not even going to get environmental impacts (you think fish like those turbines at all?), the scalability (how many solar panels will you need to power the US?), the cost, and the waste products (think: solar panels) of manufacturing items needed for each method of power generation. I'll leave that up to you for your own research.

Cold fusion, the holy grail of power generation, is a ways off still (Tokamak is a joke and a money hole). But until then, lets not run around like chickens with our heads cut off. Please oh please run the numbers before we panic about stuff like this.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

wow, thanks for this comment - good food for thought

Anonymous Anonymous said...

for more information on offshore wind projects in North America visit www.offshorewind.net

Anonymous Anonymous said...

they should be installed in the congressional halls...

Anonymous John Eberhardt said...

All I can say is WOW! Great post. Complete and excellent. Where did you gat all those cool pictures? Keep up the good work. We need to keep the word out there so our people and our government stay on track. Hopefully oil prices will remain high and interest in alternative and renewable energy will also remain high. The shortage of wind turbines is disturbing but hopefully that will change as soon as they catch up with demand.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

youd be suprised how many thousands of birds die from wind power.


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