Future Energy eNews January 21, 2002




When countries like Ireland and the UK decide to build hundreds of 3 MW windmills offshore (see below), some of us start thinking about how many such free energy machines are needed for the entire US energy needs. Creating ENERGY INDEPENDENCE by planning for the end of fossil fuel usage is outlined in this IRI Future Energy "eNews" edition.

  1. World's Largest Offshore Wind Farm Approved for Irish Sea

DUBLIN, Ireland, January 14, 2002 (ENS) - Two hundred wind turbines have been approved for Ireland's east coast in a new development that will be the largest offshore wind power project in the world. The farm will be 4 miles at sea in water up to 81 feet deep with 200 foot diameter rotors to generate 520 megawatts, as much as a large coal powered plant, enough for 500,000 homes, for $ 563 million, about $ 1 per watt, or $ 1,000 per home, which over 20 years would cost $ 1 weekly to build the farm. The operating costs and environmental and health costs, of course, are extremely low. Construction will start this spring, and by fall about 20 turbines will supply the first 60 megawatts. http://ens-news.com/ens/jan2002/2002L-01-14-01.html

One of two 66 meter diameter rotors is lifted into place a kilometer off Blyth, UK where an offshore wind farm now generates power. (Photo courtesy Blyth Offshore Wind Ltd)One of two 66 meter diameter rotors is lifted into place a kilometer off Blyth, UK where an offshore wind farm now generates power. (Photo courtesy Blyth Offshore Wind Ltd)

2) England to Put Wind to Work

LONDON, Apr. 10, 2001 PDT (Environment News Service)-- More than a million United Kingdom households are a step closer to getting their electricity from wind power after 18 offshore wind farm developers were granted leases. http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,42967,00.html
The UK will build 540 3 MW windmills, 200' high, 3 miles offshore, for $ 2,300 million capital costs, $ 4.26 million per mill, able to generate 1630 MW, as much as two nuclear power plants, enough for 1.1 million households at 1.472 kilowatt each. At a typical USA price of $ 0.10 per kW, the daily cost for power delivered would be $ 3.53 for 24 hours, $ 106 for 30 days.

However, the capital cost for the mills is $ 2,090 per household, or $ 209 capital cost per year for 10 years, about $ 18 monthly. The mills are designed to last about 30 years. There will be some cost for repairs, operations, and distribution. Obviously, this is going to be a very economically practical business, with almost no environment damage or toxic byproducts. Photo below shows huge windmills already installed in the Atlantic.


Two wind turbines generating power offshore the UK (Photo courtesy Blyth Offshore Wind Ltd.)Two wind turbines generating power offshore the UK (Photo courtesy Blyth Offshore Wind Ltd.)

3) Planning a United States National Program for Energy Independence from Fossil Fuels

Offshore windmills will continue in the future to be a good, environmentally friendly investment for a planned end to fossil fuel usage in the United States. As global warming increases, it is well-known that global wind speed will also increase, and so will the windmills' energy production in the next few decades.

US ELECTRICAL ENERGY: Addressing the US total electrical energy consumption annually, the DOE/EIA states it is about 4 trillion kWh. Converting it to simple wattage by dividing by hours in a year, we find the total US electrical generation power needs to be about 450 thousand MW. Dividing by 3 MW per windmill, we find that the US needs a little more than 150,000 windmills to supply all of its electricity. A square mile hold about 60 mills, so about 2500 square miles or 50 miles x 50 miles is all the space that is needed. Furthermore, with the capital cost of $4.3 million per windmill, only $650 billion total expenditure is required to for the US to become ELECTRICALLY INDEPENDENT of fossil fuels! Over ten years, this amounts to an investment of only $65 billion per year, or about $18/month per person in the US for ten years. (Note this dollar amount just happens to be about the same as the UK estimate above per household.)

US TOTAL ENERGY: Expanding the possibility to the total US energy need from all sources, the above numbers become 7300 times as large*. The total USA energy consumption from all sources is about 10^17 BTU (1 with 17 zeros, or "100 quads"), which is 3 X 10^9 BTU/second, 3.3 X 10^6 MW, the amount produced by a million 3 MW mills. A square mile holds 60 mills, so 16,000 square miles would hold the million mills. That's a square 125 miles by 125 miles, which can be also used for farming, if on land. The capital cost would be $ 4.26 million each for 1 million mills, 4.26 trillion dollars, or $ 426 billion yearly for 10 years, during which the nation's energy bill would be constantly decreasing and the air getting much cleaner-- especially if the electricity can be used to charge electric cars, or produce hydrogen for nonpolluting fuel cell powered cars. Thus, total ENERGY INDEPENDENCE is also possible with today's available windmill technology.

Land based wind farms are much cheaper than sea based but generation plants have many siting and right-of-way (ROW) issues that are not resolved nationally as of yet for installation and distribution.

IRI endorses a national program to end fossil fuel usage: (The NRDC calls for an Apollo Project to achieve the same goal
www.nrdc.org.) Others call it a Manhattan Project. Electrical energy consumption from windpower can be first on the agenda, for example. A couple thousand windmills could be installed off the coast of major cities around the US, also minimizing distribution losses.

The US Energy Association states in their policy recommendations, Toward a National Energy Strategy, that "Investment in energy technology...should focus on energy sources that can realistically expect to have a significant impact in meeting US energy needs over the next 20 to 30 years."

The above proposal meets these requirements.

Your support through membership in IRI is invited for 2002 by visiting our website: www.integrity-research.org Credit is given for this vision to:
Rich Murray Room For All
1943 Otowi Road Santa Fe New Mexico 87505


*See correction to this figure in "Wind Energy Follow-up," FE eNews, Feb. 4, 2002

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