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Problems

October 15, 2021

New data from IRENA, released a few days ago, shows that costs of green energy are continuing to decline year-over-year. For example, the energy produced from offshore wind farms has over the past four years gone from a cost of 120 USD/MWh in 2016 to 80 USD/MWh in 2020. Compared to fossil fuels, which according to the data costs somewhere between 50 and 150 USD/MWh, the two energy sources are on par, which is a significant improvement.

Of course, it's not happening all by itself - all kinds of engineering challenges are being solved along the way - and there are a bunch of problems with off-shore wind farms, particularly if you want to put them out in the ocean, where they don't disturb people. That's where you'd want to place them since the wind isn't blocked by trees and mountains, so they can harvest more energy. However, when you put them out in the ocean, they need to be floating because the water is too deep to connect them to the ocean bottom. This makes them prone to tip over since the structure is top-heavy and, making matters worse, the top part is spinning. People are working on that problem, and there are a bunch of ideas currently in the working on how to solve the mechanical problems to make it work.

Problems are soluble. When they have been solved, new problems will arise as a consequence of that, and those problems will be soluble too. While most people are worrying, a few people are doing. Because of these people progress is being made, step by step. We're lucky that those people exist because otherwise we would be screwed.

Note: If you're interested in the engineering of floating wind turbines, here's an article from the Economist. And if you want to see that data from IRENA, you can find that here.