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Clean Power 3D wind turbine blade development

Published on June 1st, 2014 | by Tina Casey

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2 Big Hints That US Offshore Wind Power Will Dominate

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June 1st, 2014 by  

So far, the story of the US renewable energy transformation has skipped a key chapter, which is the exploitation of our massive offshore wind power potential. In the offshore wind category, the US has been lagging far behind other nations. However, the spotlight is starting to swing out to embrace this wind power option, and we picked up a couple of tantalizing hints that US wind power, both onshore and offshore, is set to explode in the coming years.

3D platform for onshore and offshore wind power

3D wind turbine blade platform courtesy of Dassault Systemes.

Carbon Pollution And Offshore Wind Power

One big hint was dropped on Saturday by President Obama himself in his weekly radio address Saturday morning. The speech laid the groundwork for Monday’s highly anticipated announcement of new carbon pollution rules for power plants, so you can bet that every word was weighed carefully.

In that context, consider that when Obama listed the progress that the US has made in clean tech under his Administration, he cited a laundry list of accomplishments leading off with wind power:

Thanks in part to the investments we made in the Recovery Act, the electricity America generates from wind has tripled. And from the sun, it’s increased more than tenfold. In fact, every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar – and every panel is pounded into place by a worker whose job cannot be shipped overseas.

Now consider that the President touted US wind power even though we don’t have a commercial offshore wind power farm in operation yet, despite our massive offshore wind power resources.

For the record, Rhode Island offshore wind power is on track to be first out of the box, probably followed by Massachusetts, despite the usual Koch brothers shenanigans.

Also, that “every four minutes” line regarding the solar market, it’s straight out of the playbook for quashing the seriously outdated jobs-vs-environment argument. Linking the growth of wind and solar electricity generation in the same paragraph sets the table for job creation in the wind power industry, too.

Another Big Plus For US Wind Power

The other hint has to do with overcoming wind development obstacles relating to interference with other operations, for example air traffic and seismology studies. One of our colleagues here at CleanTechnica is going to be covering the a new development in the seismology angle (we’ll update with a link when that article goes live), and the air traffic barrier is also easing off.

The Department of Defense, for one, has a massive amount of land at its disposal for potential wind power development, but until recently concerns over radar interference have stymied all but a few modest projects, for example at a Coast Guard station on Cape Cod and at Fort Huachuca in Arizona.

That’s set to change in a big way as new technology for distinguishing wind turbines from aircraft makes its way into the market. As just one indicator of the wave to come, the US Army has included wind contracts in its massive $7 billion renewable energy buy.

Visualizing A Clean Energy Future In 3D

Since this is a sponsored post*, we’re going to mention another handy tech development, which is the emergence of shareable 3D platforms that streamline the whole industrial design process, including the development of offshore wind farms and other renewable energy facilities.

Developing wind farms isn’t easy, but designing and developing them for offshore environments is an even greater challenge. Good visualization tools are essential. And when they can be combined with operation and maintenance, even better! Here’s a taste of what Dassault Systemes offers in this regard, a cool example of 3D wind farm visualization:

At the end of the next video you can check out different platforms for architecture/engineering, aerospace/defense, consumer packaged goods, and consumer goods/retail.

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*Full Disclosure: This article was sponsored by Dassault Systemes.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Michael Berndtson

    This is cool stuff. There is so much awesome tech involved with offshore wind, ocean heat exploitation and tidal. Google and Facebook should be throwing money at it like crazy – rather than some of its’ weirder endeavours – like walking robots and facial recognition software. (puts tin foil hat on – both those companies freak me out for some reason. Especially post Snowden NSA revelations. And silent partners for upfront funding. And all those Silicon Valley wunderkinds – whose parents were soviet style STEM educated back at the motherland somewhere in eastern Europe – takes tin foil hat off) Anyway…

    Oil and gas should be putting its chemical engineers on this, rather than oil, gas and derived product high velocity trading. O&G is sitting on the bench. All its chips are placed on keeping 19th and early 20th centuries technology going until the arctic ice fully melts. And the assumption they’ll melt the Arctic ice for future business in the 21st century.

  • JamesWimberley

    Why spoil the post with an OTT headline? There’s no reason to think that in the USA, with a continent-wide landmass, offshore wind will ever become much larger than onshore. It is necessarily more expensive, so in the long run the volume is set by the transmission costs from the Midwest to the East Cost.The West Coast has hardly any continental shelf, so large-scale offshore requires floating bases, at even higher cost. Even in Denmark, a peninsula-plus- islands with massive and accessible offshore resources, the 2020 national plan expects almost exactly twice as much onshore capacity as offshore (link, page 5). is

    • TinaCasey

      tx James yeah still working on that headline thing…more to the point, you’re spot on with the observation that west coast wind power is limited, at least under the current state of technology, so that’s something to keep in mind going forward.

  • Matt

    I’m hopeful that the US can begin to add external cost to fossil power sources. That would be a big push, not just for energy efficiency, PV, and onshore wind, but for those forms in the wings (geothermal, enhanced Geothermal, off shore wind, tidal, stream flow turbines). While I would use 15-25% for energy efficiency of public buildings, and the rest back equally to each citizen. Even if 100% goes back to citizens it would be a great job creator. Not to mention drive down health care cost over then next ten years.

    US has lost so many lives to oil, we should go on a “war footing”. Sell “First Fuel Bonds”, the money is used to fund NRG efficiency project. To kick things off the Fed could buy these instead of all the Corp bonds. You can get a low interest loan from the fund to reduce you NRG foot print. Interest on the loans is covered by three items:
    1) removing all direct and indirect subsidies
    2) Increase royal payment on all fossil fuel extracted from public lands
    3) Fee on any imported fossil fuel, any export pays twice the import fee.
    Projects are picked based on a weighting system (non-profit, personal, small Biz, mid-size, big biz) and years to break even point. Don’t the road, maybe add public transportation to the list; but that is a hot potato ;)

    Note neither of these are new idea, but ideas who’s time has come.

    A silly aside. Things move very fast, notice the picture at the top of the story. While I’m sure the model is “new”, the version of the software is several years old. You can tell because the UI does not match the new standard for DS software, that is visible in the video at the bottom. Just a comment on how hard it is to stay “cutting edge” in the world today. And why it is so easy to get behind the time and not be current.

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