An interesting site called Offshore Wind shows the advances in wind technology and its application to power generation in the North Sea. It is a German effort, and it illustrates some major differences between Europe and the US in energy policy (or lack thereof.)
Locating wind turbines offshore is a logical type of effort, especially in areas where high ocean winds are the rule rather than the exception (and the North Sea certainly qualifies in that respect, although there are many such places on the earth.) In some ways, it’s a progression from the oil platforms that have dotted the North Sea since the 1960’s; in fact, the “German sector” for wind turbines is identical to the sector they had for oil exploration (see map at right.) The technology for doing this is very similar; lessons learned from petroleum production can and have been applied here.
One can see from the map that the German effort is extensive. As I noted just before the 2008 election, European countries have a more purposeful effort towards meeting their energy requirements. Unfortunately, we in the US do not, noises towards nuclear energy notwithstanding. If early opposition in Massachusetts is any indication, offshore wind won’t get any further in this country than offshore oil has: the Gulf of Mexico, and that’s not the windiest ocean we border. Trapped in our “…luddite, romantic vision of a country, once depopulated, being returned to its pristine state,” we can’t move forward so easily.
Then again, same Massachusetts elected Scott Brown to the Senate. Maybe we can. Maybe…