The world’s first floating wind farm 15 miles offshore of Aberdeenshire, in Scotland. The 30 megawatt installation can power approximately 20,000 households Photograph: Xinhua/Alamy
Wind, of all the alternative energy sources we pay attention to, requires vast areas for generation. So water has become the go-to place to place the turbines. It looks like the new race is whether to have the turbines fixed or floating:
Technology could help power a clean energy transition if it can overcome hurdles of cost, design and opposition from fishing
In the stormy waters of the North Sea, 15 miles off the coast of Aberdeenshire, in Scotland, five floating offshore wind turbines stretch 574 feet (175 metres) above the water. The world’s first floating windfarm, a 30 megawatt facility run by the Norwegian company Equinor, has only been in operation since 2017 but has already broken UK records for energy output. Continue reading
A solar power plant in Gujarat, India. Renewable energy in the country would be cheaper than between 87% and 91% of new coal plants, the report says. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters
Looks like we are almost there:
Almost two-thirds of renewable energy schemes built globally last year expected to undercut coal costs
Almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built globally last year will be able to generate cheaper electricity than even the world’s cheapest new coal plants, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). Continue reading
A good method for converting so-called NIMBY opponents of turbines and other renewable-energy infrastructure would be to give locals a stake in the enterprise’s economic success. Photograph by Simon Dawson / Bloomberg / Getty
“No vote for wind power advocates” – wind power opponents’ election poster for the 2017 parliamentary elections. Source: windwahn.com
We have giant turbines along the ridge at the top of the mountain where we live. I enjoy looking at them, not because they are pretty, or perfect, but because they represent progress. I never had the NIMBY inclination. If the turbines were in my face all day, every day, or if I had some sense that they were affecting my property value, perhaps I would feel differently. I had thought of the acronym PIMBY, thanks to those turbines uphill from us, before reading this, but am glad to see it is a thing. Thanks, as always, to Bill McKibben for his newsletter’s role in getting us to see further down the road:
The pandemic has driven a lot of people outdoors: reports show that park visits are up around the world and parking lots at hiking trails are packed. That’s understandable—by now you’d need to chop down a sizable forest to print out the studies showing that time in nature reduces stress, cuts healing times, and enhances the functioning of the immune system. As Sadie Dingfelder wrote in the Washington Post in December, “I’ve always found it relaxing and rejuvenating to be outdoors, but the anxiety and isolation of the pandemic, the uncertainty of civil unrest and, oh, I don’t know, the potential crumbling of American democracy have made me crave nature like a drug.” Continue reading
A simulation of Denmark’s clean energy island, due to be completed before 2033. Photograph: Danish government
Wind is picking up speed in the race for energy’s future, and to help governments meet climate goals. Denmark is in that race to win. Thanks to the Guardian for this story:
Thanks to an inter-party agreement, the clean energy hub in the North Sea is set to be the largest construction project in Danish history
Denmark’s government has agreed to take a majority stake in a £25bn artificial “energy island”, which is to be built 50 miles (80km) offshore, in the middle of the North Sea.
The island to the west of the Jutland peninsula will initially have an area of 120,000 sq metres – the size of 18 football pitches – and in its first phase will be able to provide 3m households with green energy. Continue reading
General Electric’s Haliade-X wind turbine at Rotterdam Harbor in the Netherlands. Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times
Stanley Reed has been our go-to expert on turbines for a few years. The photos and illustrations are particularly helpful to understand the scale of these new models. Thanks to the New York Times for giving him prime space on the front page on the first day of the new year for this story:
G.E.’s giant machine, which can light up a small town, is stoking a renewable-energy arms race.
Twirling above a strip of land at the mouth of Rotterdam’s harbor is a wind turbine so large it is difficult to photograph. The turning diameter of its rotor is longer than two American football fields end to end. Later models will be taller than any building on the mainland of Western Europe. Continue reading
Image: Tyros.andi/Wikimedia Commons
Wind is a formidable renewable energy option, but the impacts on wildlife have long been discussed. It’s heartening that such a simple solution as paint has the potential to so drastically reduce the dangers to birds and bats.
A small study in Norway showed that painting one blade of a wind turbine black reduced bird mortality by over 70%.
Wind energy is one of the world’s most popular renewables. It’s also one of the most promising—some calculations suggest that strategically placed wind turbines could conceivably power the entire planet. As more turbines go up worldwide, they’ll help us reduce pollution, water use and carbon emissions, along with the environmental degradation, habitat loss and human health risks that come with fracking and oil extraction.
But there are some who don’t benefit quite as much: flying animals. Each year, turbine blades kill hundreds of thousands of birds and bats. As wind power becomes more prevalent, this number may rise into the millions—although it’s important to remember that other power generation methods likely kill far more birds than wind farms do.
This concern has led to a number of proposed interventions, from turning off wind farms during migrations to installing special whistles only bats can hear. A new study presents a relatively low-cost, set-it-and-forget-it option: just paint one of the turbine blades black.
Renewable-energy projects are now finding capital faster than fossil fuels. Photograph by Ken Cedeno / Getty
Since our platform name change, each daily post has been either about coffee or about birds. We have not neglected or forgotten our commitment to all the other important environmental, conservation, culture and related themes this platform has showcased, under whichever name. Today, Bill McKibben, one of our favorite sources of both depressing and heartening environmental news, is our go-to for some good news:
A wind farm in Pomeroy, Iowa. Credit Jim Watson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
In the current political climate it may sound like howling in the wind, at first, but read on:
Any serious energy transformation will need to harness America’s powerful and creative economic engine.
By Amory B. Lovins and Rushad R. Nanavatty
Mr. Lovins and Mr. Nanavatty work at Rocky Mountain Institute, which is focused on creating a clean, low-carbon energy future.
The best thing to come from the Senate’s floor debate on the Green New Deal late last month may have been these eminently sane remarks, calling on lawmakers of both parties to “move together” in order “to lower emissions, to address the reality of climate change, recognizing that we’ve got an economy we need to keep strong, that we have vulnerable people we need to protect, that we have an environment that we all care about — Republicans and Democrats.”
Who said it? A Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who leads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “My hope is we get beyond the high-fired rhetoric to practical, pragmatic, bipartisan solutions,” she said on the chamber floor.
The path is there, if our leaders will only choose to take it. In 2011, Reinventing Fire, an energy study by Rocky Mountain Institute, where we work, showed how a business-led transition could triple energy efficiency, quintuple renewables and sustain an American economy 2.6 times larger in 2050 than it was in 2010 with no oil, coal or nuclear energy, and one-third less natural gas. The net cost was $5 trillion less than business-as-usual — or even more valuable if a price was put on carbon emissions.
E.ON’s Rampion windfarm in the English Channel, which can power 350,000 homes. Photograph: Darren Cool/E.On/PA
Thanks to Adam Vaughan and the Guardian for this news:
Windfarms supplied third of UK’s electricity this week, with output hitting 14.9GW high
Storm Diana brought travel chaos to road, rail and airports, but the clouds did have a silver lining: the strong winds helped set a renewable energy record.
Windfarms supplied about a third of the UK’s electricity between 6pm and 6.30pm on Wednesday, a time of peak energy demand. Output hit a high of 14.9GW, beating a previous record of 14.5GW. Continue reading
Scottish Power’s Whitelee windfarm on Eaglesham moor, just south of Glasgow. Photograph: Global Warming Images/REX
My daily contribution to this platform is a habit vaguely in the tradition of meditation–finding something each day that is worthy of gratitude, or otherwise worthy of sharing with friends, family, and anyone else who cares to listen. Because of the good fortune I have had to visit and work in many amazing places, it is important to me to never regret the places where I still have not been. Scotland is one of those places that, if I were a regretter, I would be feeling it now. I owe that place a visit (even if the company name sounds like a Bond villain):
Happy to hear that there are still such efforts (conferences such as the one described below) underway and that they are inclined to the audacious. Thanks to Brad Plumer, at the New York Times, for this report:
Thousands of entrepreneurs gathered near Washington this week for an annual government conference. On the agenda: unusual solutions to major clean-energy problems.
A kelp forest off Mexico’s Pacific coast. A project presented this week at an energy research conference proposes using tiny robots to farm seaweed for use in biofuels. Credit Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild, via Getty Images
Off the coast of California, the idea is that someday tiny robot submarines will drag kelp deep into the ocean at night, to soak up nutrients, then bring the plants back to the surface during the day, to bask in the sunlight.
The goal of this offbeat project? To see if it’s possible to farm vast quantities of seaweed in the open ocean for a new type of carbon-neutral biofuel that might one day power trucks and airplanes. Unlike the corn- and soy-based biofuels used today, kelp-based fuels would not require valuable cropland. Continue reading
Thanks to the Guardian for this update on the current state of the art of wind power, and it is good to see Britain in the lead:
Wind isn’t just mysterious, destructive and exhilarating – capturing just 2% of it would solve the planet’s energy needs at a stroke. And as the windiest country in Europe, Britain is at the forefront of this green revolution Continue reading
Dong Energy, a Danish company, is installing 32 turbines that stretch 600 feet high off the coast of Britain. Credit Andy Teebay
Thanks to the New York Times for this news from the world of alternative energy:
LIVERPOOL, England — When engineers faced resistance from residents in Denmark over plans to build wind turbines on the Nordic country’s flat farmland, they found a better locale: the sea. The offshore wind farm, the world’s first, had just 11 turbines and could power about 3,000 homes. Continue reading
The Block Island Wind Farm’s turbines off the coast of Rhode Island in August. They began spinning on Monday and will deliver electricity to Block Island, a community nearby. Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times
Thanks to the Science section of the New York Times:
Until this week, all of the wind power generated in the United States was landlocked. Continue reading
Wind turbines surround a coal-fired power plant near Garzweiler in western Germany. Renewables now generate 27 percent of the country’s electricity, up from 9 percent a decade ago. PHOTO: Nat Geo
Germany has been one of the few countries that have successfully moved away from nuclear energy. Germany has so far successfully shut down its nine units that had the capacity of generating enough power for at least 20 million homes in Europe. In fact, the contribution of nuclear power in Germany’s electricity generation has now fallen to just 16 percent and renewables are now the preferred source of electricity generation in the country.
Germany is pioneering an epochal transformation it calls the energiewende—an energy revolution that scientists say all nations must one day complete if a climate disaster is to be averted. Last year about 27 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, three times what it got a decade ago and more than twice what the United States gets today. The change accelerated after the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, which led Chancellor Angela Merkel to declare that Germany would shut all 17 of its own reactors by 2022.
The smallest and most isolated of the Canary Islands, El Hierro, has a way of combining hydro and wind power that may allow it, one day, to get all its energy from renewable sources. PHOTO: BBC
The question is not about who has the densest forests or flora resources showing up high estimates in green. It is one of keeping up a sustained model of efficient use of alternative and natural sources of energy. And on that front, El Hierro seems like it’s well on its way to self-sufficiency on the energy front.
For more than 30 years, El Hierro has been dreaming of becoming self-sufficient. And this year it took a big step forward. At the end of June its new hydro-wind facility, Gorona del Viento, came fully on stream and in July and August it provided roughly half of the island’s energy needs.That means the island’s 10,000 inhabitants are suddenly less reliant on supplies of diesel arriving over unpredictable seas from Tenerife, 200km away. In July, Gorona del Viento saved 300 tonnes of fossil fuels, but that is predicted to rise to 500 tonnes per month before long – the equivalent of saving 40,000 barrels of oil and 19,000 tonnes of emitted CO2 per year.
One of the finished chimes
The picture above shows one of a couple bamboo wind chimes that Seth and I built to put up around Xandari. The sound is, err, rather wooden–but definitely mild and pleasant! You may be asking why we took it upon ourselves to demonstrate our mighty artistic prowess. Well, we really had the birds of Xandari in mind with this project. Specifically, a poor Buff-throated Saltator who had thrown himself against the spa window so many times that he had Continue reading