I came across an intriguing idea the other day. It seems brilliant in its simplicity, effectively knocking over two big bad birds – fossil fuel dependence and destructive hurricanes - with a single stone in the form of offshore wind farms.
The recent article by science writer Bobby Magill highlights findings by Stanford professor Mark Z. Jacobson. http://www.climatecentral.org/news/offshore-wind-farms-could-protect-cities-from-hurricanes-16813
Using computer simulations, Jacobson was able to demonstrate that strategically placed walls of tens of thousands of off shore wind turbines would have significantly reduced the power of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The turbines would be able to create a net energy reduction, safely and effectively dissipating high winds and storm surges.
In a presentation (http://www.energy.udel.edu/wind2013/Jacobson_1302UDelHurrTurb.pdf), Jacobson concludes that "replacing fossil fuels with offshore turbines reduces (not only) hurricane damage and the need for sea walls, but also air pollution and global warming and provides electric power with zero fuel cost."
It seems like a no brainer!
But concepts like this fill me with equal parts hope and frustration. Simple is not necessarily easy, and the huge number of hurdles that would need to be overcome for such an initiative to ever take place seem pretty daunting. Even if funding could be achieved and local residents would agree to wind farms taking up space in their ocean views, I can't imagine fossil fuel conglomerates ever allowing a project like this to see the light of day.
So what do you think? Is this solution too good to be true? If this concept really is a feasible way to increase both renewable energy production and the resilience of storm-prone coastal cities, why haven't we already started building those wind farms. What can individuals and organizations do to help make the idea a reality?
PS – check Mark Jacobson's recent interview on Letterman to learn more about his ideas. http://youtu.be/AqIu2J3vRJc
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Turbiny_wiatrowe_w_Szwecji,_2011_ubt.JPG
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Disaster risk, Resilience, Sustainable energy: Wind