Despite the clear benefits of wind power, there will always be obstacles to overcome, particularly given the often difficult environments developers have to work in, the issues around tariffs and investment concerns during times of austerity. However, innovators around the world are engineering solutions that might literally rise above these challenges. Dr. Corwin Hardham of Makani Power talks to PES about his company's new project.
It is springtime on the coast of California, and as I gaze out on roiling seas driven by consistent trade winds, I am reminded that deep water offshore wind is one of the world's largest untapped renewable resources. For some countries it represents not only a valuable commodity but the only source of power-dense clean energy. The challenge is to bring it online quickly and cost effectively.
Domestically, President Obama's 2013 budget proposal, which includes $27.2 billion for the Department of Energy, demonstrates that the U.S, Government is shifting its focus to energy innovation and prioritizing offshore wind. "Onshore wind is the second-least-expensive form of new energy available in the open market..." Steven Chu, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, said. "Offshore wind is considerably more expensive, so we're shifting our resources to making that a financial reality".
Makani Power is a team of 20 engineers in pursuit of making offshore wind a financial reality. With support from Google and Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), we are developing a new kind of technology called an Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT). The AWT has the potential to halve the cost of energy from deep water offshore wind by decreasing system mass by 90 per cent while increasing capacity factor by 50 per cent.