Air power generators off our U.S. Coasts...Why are they not a utilized energy source?

Huge wind powered mills resting in the waters, generating power from the constant winds of the oceans. Sounds like a wonderful way to get free energy with Green way. Whats the catch folks? Why aren’t they in place full bore all over the place? Aesthetics? Lack in technology? wouldn’t generat enough power? What?

Yes, concept is valid, economics seem to work, sounds like a winner.

Problems: Must be anchored and far enough off shore that they cannot be easily seen from the shore (spoils the view), even though underwater cable must come to shore. There are a limited number of attractive locations that are shallow enough for simple anchoring.
NIMBY: Project proposed off Cape Cod has been blocked by wealthy beach house owners (including Teddy Kennedy), even though it would probably not be visible from shore.
Maintenance- Newer wind machines don’t require much maintenance but each service call will be an order of magnitude more expensive than on land.

Still a good idea in the right place. Europe already has similar installations in place.

There’s a huge debate over this very topic here in Massachusetts right now. The major argument against so-called “wind farms” is that they would despoil a national treasure, much like sticking up 100-foot-high billboards all over Yellowstone.

Of course, the people making this argument are the people who own property along the coastline whose value is largely determined by the quality of the view. My step-mother owns a home on Cape Cod that she rents out at $5000 per week during the Summer, and people are willing to pay that much because the house offers an unobstructed view of the ocean. The fear is that erecting hundreds of windmills (even 3 or 4 miles off shore) would make the view less attractive and therefby lower the property values. Basically, the argument is just another form of NIMBYism

There are, of course, other arguments that have been offered, such as noise pollution, danger to passing birds, etc., but they are all a bunch of hooey as far as I can tell.



Having grown up on the ocean in Connecticut (err, long island sound) I see the point about unobstructed views. But off shore 12 miles and you see nothing…right. Anchoring would be a problem but it could be worked around.

Why not put the generators under the water and use the massive oceanic tides? Then you would just need buoys…

The Kennedy’s piss me off with all they’re shenanigins…I moored off they’re beach once with my wife and with in 20 minutes was escorted away. We didn’t even land, we were just having lunch.

Rich people who own all the areas where it would work better think that burning coal in poor people’s neighborhoods makes far better environmental sense.

Ted Kennedy prefers soft coal burning in YOUR neighborhood to windmills in HIS neighborhood. Remember that.

Does the total energy generated over the lifetime of a wind farm excede the energy required to make and maintain a wind farm? I imagine that mining ore, refining it, making the parts, and actually building the farm requires a lot of energy. Does anyone know if this process pays out in the long run?

I think that the current state of engineering requires towers built on the sea bed, not floating windmill barges in the middle of the ocean.
This means you need a relatively shallow area, with lots of predictable wind, in a place where running the power cable to shore is feasible.

This limits somewhat the number of possible locations, and pretty much ensures that it will be close to shore. But it is not only posssible, but even possible to do so in a cost-effective way, as proven by the fact that a private company wants to build one off of Cape Cod.

There are some real concerns: first, questions about impacts on fish and migratory birds, which will be answered by studies. Second broader questions about how and when a private company should be able to make money using federal (that is, owned by all of us together) waters, and what kind of payment the government (that is, you and me) should get for it. This should really be addressed by Congress at some point, but is not unsolveable. And thirdly, concerns about whether the project unduly impacts the important recreational resource of Cape Cod. A fair question, but one that an impartial observer might weight a little less heavily than someone who’s house looks over the area.

Let’s not have this turn into a debate or rant about the Kennedys or anyone else. Facts are fine, such as “Senator Kennedy opposes this project” (assuming that’s true). But let’s keep out of this forum nonfactual or debatable points such as “Teddy is a big old meanie and he really hates poor people.”

moderator GQ