Offshore Floating wind turbines: An Environmental Disaster in the making

When a public policy decision is flawed, and the reasons it is flawed are simple and obvious, and the consequences are huge and costly, the appropriate response for a concerned observer is to call attention to the looming debacle. Not just once, but over and over and over again.

An example of an impending economic and environmental disaster is the special interest-driven mad rush to deploy floating wind turbines off the California coast. It’s insane when anyone seriously searches on the topic of offshore wind in the context of California’s overall energy strategy.

Offshore Wind is a Catastrophic Scam  Offshore floating wind turbines

by Edward Ring

It’s about time Californians of all ideological persuasions wake up and stop what is possibly the most economically wasteful and environmentally destructive project in American history: the utility-scale adoption of wind energy. And with that acknowledgment of bias clearly stated, readers are invited to review this week’s selections and make up their own minds! You will not find very much information critical of wind in a Google search. For example, the term “evidence wind power harms whales” will turn up an uninterrupted assortment of articles and reports attacking that assertion as “misinformation.” Evidence, for which there is plenty, is nowhere to be found. When it comes to wind, along with most other critical issues surrounding water, energy, and the environment, search engine bias is alive and well. Algorithms are neutral. People who code them are not.

The California Legislature intends to despoil our coastline and coastal waters with floating wind turbines, 20+ miles offshore, tethered to the sea floor 4,000 feet beneath the waves. Along with tethering cables, high voltage wires will descend from each of these noisy, 1,000-foot tall leviathans, but we’re to assume none of this will disrupt the migrations of our treasured Cetaceans and other marine and avian life, not the electric fields emanating from hundreds (thousands?) of 20+ mile long live power lines laid onto the ocean floor, nor from the construction, the maintenance, or the new ports, ships, and submersibles. Offshore wind energy is not worth the cost. End it. End it now.

Newsom and the Legislature Send the Dept. of Water Resources Shopping for Offshore Wind

This article from Politico, published Sept. 1, seems to celebrate the passage of AB 1373, which authorizes the California Dept. of Water Resources to go “shopping for offshore wind.” It includes this gem of a quote, “’Central procurement makes offshore wind possible,’ [said] Martin Goff, California project director for the Norwegian developer Equinor.” And massive subsidies, perhaps? One month earlier, in August, Equinor pulled out of the Trollvind project in the North Sea because of unforeseen challenges including “technology availability, time constraints, and rising costs that made the project commercially unsustainable.” Also in August, Equinor sought “a 54 percent increase for the price of power produced at three planned U.S. wind farms” off the coast of New York. In the face of a likely denial, Equinor announced it could cancel U.S. offshore wind projects. There’s more: In Nov. 2021, Equinor abandoned a 1.4 GW floating wind farm off the shores of Ireland. Let’s consider California’s track record in completing public infrastructure projects on time and on budget, compared to, well, pretty much anywhere on Earth. If offshore wind is allowed to proceed, the financial disaster that ensues will make California’s High-Speed Rail appear by comparison to be an extremely cost-effective use of public funds.

Central Coast Residents Work to Stop —or at Least Slow Down— Offshore Wind

Earlier this week in Cal Matters, a thorough and reasonably balanced report on California’s offshore wind projects described local reaction to planned offshore wind developments in San Luis Obispo and Humboldt counties. The article quotes a paid proponent of the project dismissing skeptics as NIMBYs. In their next report, Cal Matters might look for wind industry money creatively flowing into the political campaigns of local elected officials, along with the bank accounts of supportive nonprofits, tribes, and media properties. Hundreds of billions in California taxpayer-funded subsidies are at stake, and offshore wind is impossible without subsidies. The author reports the California Energy Commission’s goal to achieve 25 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity. That equates to 2,500 offshore wind turbines, assuming each one has a capacity of 10 megawatts. These machines, which have barely been prototyped and have no long-term record of durability, are 1,000 feet from the waterline to the tip of the blade, and also require a commensurate flotation vessel and counterweight below the waterline. From tip to tip, they are longer than a U.S. Navy supercarrier. Since the wind doesn’t blow continuously and turbines require regular downtime for maintenance, expect around 2,500 10 MW turbines to provide the equivalent of 10 GW of baseload power. This would require proportionate battery storage, along with thousands of miles of new undersea and land-based high-voltage lines. All this would only deliver 12 percent of the 100 GW generating capacity Californians are going to need if the state legislature succeeds in forcing our residential and transportation sectors to go all-electric.

Offshore Wind is an Economic and Environmental Catastrophe

This article provides useful links to additional reports on the environmental destruction wrought by wind energy, both onshore and offshore, including a recent study sponsored by a New England commercial fishing association. Wind turbines aren’t just Condor Cuisinarts. Along with raptors, condors, and other magnificent endangered birds, they kill bats and insects – their blades are at the altitude insect species migrate. Follow breaking news on the depletion of global insect mass if you like to lose sleep. Offshore, it’s worse. Electromagnetic fields from undersea cables produce birth deformities in marine life and produce magnetic fields that disrupt the orientation abilities of some fish. Their low-frequency operational noise disrupts sounds made by fish for mating, spawning, and navigating. The turbines “increase sea surface temperatures and alter upper-ocean hydrodynamics in ways scientists do not yet understand,” and “whip up sea sediment and generate highly turbid wakes that are 30-150 meters wide and several kilometers in length, having a major impact on primary production by phytoplankton which are the base of marine food chains.” Support for offshore wind by environmentalist organizations ought to utterly discredit them. But just say the magic words, “climate crisis,” and anything goes.

California Governor Signs Wave Energy Bill into Law

The average home in California costs $800,000, twice the national average which itself – for the same reasons – is also artificially high. Environmentalist safeguards, always a good idea, have been taken to extremes. Thanks to unreasonable regulations restricting timber harvesting, mining, land development, and restricting investment in cost-effective infrastructure to deliver affordable and reliable energy and water, everything costs more. On the California coast, hyper-regulation is the norm. Despite a whopping 840 miles of shoreline, most of it virtually uninhabited, the average non-billionaire Californian can forget about ever building a home in sight of the Pacific Ocean. The same goes for any conventional energy or water project. Natural gas-fueled generating plants situated on the California coast are being decommissioned. Diablo Canyon nuclear power station is one regulatory hiccough away from its demise. A desalination plant that would have made Orange County completely independent of imported water was struck down last year by the Coastal Commission. As for offshore rigs harvesting from some of the biggest reservoirs of oil and gas in the world? Shut them down! But if you want to stick thousands of floating wind turbines offshore, at stupefying cost, California’s Byzantine bureaucracy and captive taxpayers are here to help. For these anointed boondoggles, down with NIMBYs and purveyors of misinformation! Now we have wave energy. Who knows? Maybe it’s not as harmful as offshore wind. But it wouldn’t matter if it was. It checks the climate crisis box, so get out the rubber stamps and turn them loose.

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