Opinion » Letters

Alternative energy


The proposed 1,000 megawatt offshore wind farm off the coast of Morro Bay would be an economic and environmental disaster. The water off the California coast is very deep, and the project will have to employ floating platforms. This has never been done on a commercial scale, so any cost estimate would be pure guesswork. With 100 platforms, any design error or cost overrun would be multiplied accordingly. Wind turbines, having numerous moving parts, have an anticipated life of around 20 years, and maintenance will be a challenge since the platforms will be far out to sea and a soccer field or so up in the air.

It would also be inefficient. In 2020, German offshore wind production had a capacity factor of 27.8 percent of nameplate capacity. Assuming a similar production rate off the California coast would mean that 1,000 megawatts of nameplate capacity would only produce less than the equivalent of 300 megawatts on an annual basis. In addition, because renewable production in California is already maxed out at less than 25 percent of total demand, the entire offshore wind production would have to be stored to be available for when other existing renewables production is not available. Power is lost going in and out of storage, so the capacity factor would be further reduced to the point that the effective production would amount to about one-sixth of what Diablo Canyon can produce.

The only feasible commercial power storage technology right now seems to be batteries, which have a relatively short life span of around 10 years. Applying battery storage to renewable production would put incredible pressure on existing resources and the environment, not to mention ongoing recycling issues.

If you really want to consider alternative energy, a good start would be to acquaint yourself with the facts.

Mark Henry

San Luis Obispo

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