The Pickens Plan centers around the “Saudi Arabia” of wind in the Midwest from Texas up through North Dakota. T. Boone Pickens envisions wind farms dotting the landscapes providing unlimited yet sporadic power to those who live nearby.
But, since most people in the U. S. live on or near the coasts, piping this energy from the Midwest may not be feasible. So, there has been much talk about deep-water wind farms lately. Putting up wind farms close to shore has generated ire among environmentalists and homeowners alike.
But, even though the logistics of deep water wind farms are more significant than either onshore or near shore ones the payoffs are thought to be larger. For instance, the average wind speed 20 miles or more offshore is around 5 mph more than the average wind speed in the Midwest.
This number is significant when it comes to generating power along the coastal cities. In order to deal with the power of the ocean, possible hurricanes, salt water and currents, deep water wind turbines have to be built structurally sound and to last.
Researchers at the University of Maine are currently working on developing materials for such deep water wind turbines. Carbon fiber, balsa wood and fiberglass are being tested for durability, corrosion and other factors for turbines that can be 300-feet tall with blades of 200-feet across or more.
Floating like oil platforms or tethered to the ocean bottom, the commercialization of wind farms may still be a few years off as companies are developing methods to assemble the turbines at sea. But, the payoff in power along the coasts will also be significant and aid in the goals of bluer skies and energy independence.