Deep water wind farms promise renewable energy for Pacific Coast

Offshore wind power is a great renewable resource which is already being tapped successfully in relatively shallow water areas. Much of our population is near oceans, so these installations minimize transmission losses. The Pacific coast, however, becomes deeper much more quickly than other areas of the world, creating mooring problems for offshore wind installations, particularly if there are objections to the turbines being visible from shore.

Someday decades from now, California’s sprawling coastal cities could draw their power from floating windmills that bob on the sea like buoys, far from shore.

Their blades would spin over deep ocean water, turning in winds that are steadier and stronger than they are on land. Undersea cables would send their electricity to shore.

This kind of floating windmill has not yet been deployed en masse. But a model of one sits in the Berkeley office of Principle Power, one of several companies trying to tap the powerful winds at sea.

Principle has signed agreements with utilities to test its device, called the WindFloat, off the coasts of Oregon and Portugal. Three connected canisters filled with ballast water will support a wind turbine, with cables mooring the entire device to the seabed.


Great animation here.


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