With the growing fear of fossil fuel depletion and that fossil fuels are destroying our planet, many people have been trying to determine a easy, safe alternative that can be as reliable as fossil fuels. Fossil fuels not only destroy our environment when burnt, but also can lead to pollution when extracting them. Specifically, offshore drilling for oil is a practice that has already shown can lead to catastrophic leaks into our oceans. What many people do not think about that can also be harvested offshore with no risk to our environment is wind power.
We have all heard about the wonders of creating renewable energy from wind. The idea of wind power is pretty amazing and it is a resource that will never run out. The one major draw back of wind power is that you can only generate power when you have wind. So this technology can only be utilized in places that are in fact very windy. This is the major set back of this technology that has kept it from being a major source of power for our country.
With many of the oil crisis’ that have occurred in our country, a push towards renewable energy has occurred from our government. Many market-based incentives, such as business and residential tax credits, created a market for non-utility-produced electric power through the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) in 1978. There were also many acts passed that supported the further expansion and use of wind energy, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Like I said earlier, the use of offshore wind power could help reduce our use of oil and other fossil fuels. On the Atlantic Coast alone, offshore wind has the potential to produce almost 30 percent more electricity than offshore oil and gas resources combined. The only problem with the offshore wind power is that it can be intermittent and unpredictable. Scientists at MIT may have found a solution for this problem called Ocean Renewable Energy Storage system or ORES. This system is essentially an underwater pumped hydraulic system. The key point of this system is the placement of concrete spheres on the seafloor under the wind turbines. These spheres can act as both an anchor and a storage device for the energy generated. Whenever the turbines produce more power than is needed at the time, the power is diverted to a pump which pumps seawater from the sphere. When the power is needed later, water is then allowed to flow back into the sphere through a turbine attached to a generator, and the electricity generated can be sent back to shore. One thousand of these spheres could replace a conventional on-shore coal or nuclear power plant.
What are your views on wind power? Do you think that it would be advantageous to utilize wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean? Have you ever heard of ORES? What do you think the disadvantages of these ORES systems or wind power overall? If not for wind, do you think that the technology for the ORES system would be advantageous to use with other forms of renewables?