A green energy solution that’s out of this world

July 10, 2008

windoffshore.jpgThe quest for more renewable energy sources recently got a boost that’s out of this world.

NASA researchers this week said they are using global satellite data to create maps of ocean areas best suited for wind energy.

The maps will be useful in planning where to build offshore wind farms that can convert wind energy to electricity, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Islands of floating wind farms have the potential to generate 500 to 800 watts per square meter, according to research conducted by Tim Liu, a senior research scientist at the JPL.

“No group of people have measured the amount of wind power over the entire ocean. Now for the first time we have a map,” Liu said in an interview. “You can actually quantify how much power is in what place. The map gives you this tool for where to place these (wind) farms.”

NASA’s QuikSCAT satellite tracks the power, speed and direction of ocean wind using a specialized microwave radar.  Created in 1999, the QuikSCAT is normally used for predicting storms and checking the accuracy of weather forecasts.

Offshore wind farms are one answer to critics’ claims that towering wind turbines disturb wildlife habitats and spoil landscapes. Also, the wind blows stronger over the ocean because it doesn’t have hills, mountains or buildings blocking its way.

The challenge of moving the electricity from the middle of the ocean to utility customers on land, however, is formidable and costly. A spat over plans to build a wind farm off the coast Massachusetts’ Cape Cod is playing out now, with state and local authorities arguing over a burying the electric cables needed to connect the farm to the power grid.

NASA’s satellite maps reveal that the best areas to construct ocean wind farms are in the mid-latitude regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, including off the California coast.

To see an image of the QuikSCAT wind map, click here.

— Reporting by Jennifer Martinez


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Even though the technology is here for relief from much of the dependence on foreign oil, until the owners of the infrastructure can make the bucks, the providers of the technology won’t be able to deploy it. Big oil and big power will starve out the entreprenours until they can use their embedded base to pay for the distribution channels. It happenned with the telephone comnanies and video to the home. Watch it happen again with elctrical power, with hydrogen fuel, with solar power.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

I really think we need to plant more crops and use oils that we get from plants. Many things can be made from h the cannabis plant. Plus it would give a boom the the farming industry. The sun, water, time and, God, it is the perfect Energy source and has a very short grow cycle.

Posted by Chandler Bluesoul | Report as abusive

What about turning fat from the livestock industry into fuel? It’s mostly a waste product, isn’t it? Is anyone doing research into this?

This funny eco video suggests a national fat-to-fuel program. Sure, the idea of converting cellulite into fuel for cars might be a little far-fetched, but I think it’s worth it to entertain all kinds of ideas if we’re ever going to find the kind of “silver buckshot” we’ll need to acheieve sustainable energy independence.

Posted by InLoveWithTheEarth | Report as abusive

Problem with most of the X to fuel programs is that there horribly inefficient. There is no point in turning a waste product to fuel if it requires nearly as much energy to make as they will give you.
Wind farms though are a win win (unless your a bird or a bird watcher :) as they produce a large amount of usable power from an under used source. Even solar finally has the potential to make big inroads with the newer types of films being made. Now if only we could get some big dollars invested into fusion.

BTW the smart “big oil” folks are starting to realize that they should be in the business of big energy and are starting to move the industry in that direction.

Posted by eron | Report as abusive

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[…] Reuters Environment Blog/NewsWagging the dogGerman power boss goes renewables route…at home tooA green energy solution that’s out of this worldOn the Great North Road into forgotten KenyaClimate change: the vision thingClimate change, it’s […]

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Posted by An out of this world green energy solution « Rashid’s Blog | Report as abusive

1. Require that all new construction have solar panels.
2. Older homes would recieve, prop tax cuts if they comply.
3. Diminish the Amount of veichles allowed into Manhattan.
4. Taxi/police/Gov’t etc. should only invest in Electric cars.
5. Wind generated energy.
6. Incentive program for housing crisis which allows for
7. Above ground train system.

Posted by Mike Gino. | Report as abusive