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  • bluecheese4u bluecheese4u Jul 28, 2013 7:56 PM Flag

    A&M engineer floats plan to harness offshore wind power

    A&M engineer floats plan to harness offshore wind power

    Posted on July 28, 2013 at 5:00 am by Houston Chronicle

    By Jeannie Kever
    Houston Chronicle

    Wind farms blanket the western half of Texas, turbine blades spinning across the Panhandle and Permian Basin, making the state the nation’s leader in generating electricity from wind.

    But for most of the country, the greatest potential for wind energy lies offshore. Developers are pushing ahead with projects on the East Coast and elsewhere despite environmental concerns about fishing habitats, migratory bird paths and even the seaside views valued by tourists and coastal residents alike.

    This activity is largely driven by requirements for utilities to include a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources. Beyond the environment, permitting and other concerns, investors also struggle with the high cost of offshore wind developments.

    Now research by an engineer at Texas A&M University at Galveston aims to make the turbines less expensive and allow them to be moved farther from shore, reducing complaints about visual blight.

    “Wind energy profits are razor thin,” said Bert Sweetman, associate professor of maritime systems engineering at A&M-Galveston. “Cost has to be a bigger issue than when you’re building an oil platform.”

    IEA: Renewables will surpass natural gas for power generation by 2016

    Although his work is still based on mathematical models, he said he’s confident it will result in savings.

    Sweetman estimated that various design possibilities would cut the amount of steel required by 30 percent.

    Like other offshore wind turbine designs, these would be tethered to the seabed. A cable to carry the current generated would also run to the sea floor and on to an onshore power station.

    Wind energy is well established in Texas, accounting for 13 percent of generating capacity in 2012, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas reports. Most of that comes from turbines in West T

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