Showing posts from January 17, 2010

Offshore Wind Turbines—It’s All About the Seals

To be accurate, it’s really all about the pinnipeds: seals, walruses, and sea lions. They are the key to profitable offshore wind energy … in California anyway. To understand why, consider the recent evolution of wind energy. Wind turbines have been moving down a learning curve toward larger sizes, greater dependability, and greater efficiency. Those advances bring them closer to profitability even without government subsidies. Yet the subsidies are probably assured because wind is noncarbon energy source. (Actually, there is some fossil fuel combustion in manufacture and installation, but we won’t quibble.) At the same time, those Eiffel Tower sizes only compound the objections of neighbors. NIMBY, or not in my backyard takes on a whole new meaning for objects visible from several miles away Siting wind turbines offshore gets some distance from the nearest neighbors. Even better, winds are significantly stronger and more consistent offshore. For those reasons, there have been