Energy Options > Wind Power

Sailboat wind power turbine?

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Hurricane:
Don't some boats already use wind turbines to charge the on-board batteries, especially on long-distance cruises?

riptide:

--- Quote from: mangyhyena on January 05, 2014, 11:41:18 AM ---
To charge a small battery bank on a sailboat, I was wondering about the feasibility of dropping a turbine in the water.  I was thinking that as the wind pushes the boat, the turbine in the water should turn as it is pulled/dragged through the water, charging the battery bank.


--- End quote ---

Use to do this sort of thing for dead reckoning, known as streaming a log.
The turbine would spin a line that would tell your approximate speed and distance traveled. That thing was forever getting fouled on seaweed. Only time I ever got seasick was on a dark night with complete overcast and no visible horizon.... and then I had to go clear the log and stream it again! You should be able to do it the old way, but GPS wins every time for accurate navigation.

A fixed location is just going to work better for either tide energy or wind energy collection.

mangyhyena:
Someone thought the idea of a hydro turbine on a sailboat had merit.  They obviously had the idea long before I did, since they manufacture and sell it.  Just found their product.

http://www.wattandsea.com/en/cruising-hydrogenerator

Guess no one explained to them why it was a bad idea.  Worse still, there are fools out there actually using this product, not realizing how inefficient and just unmanageable this foolish idea is.  Poor saps even seem happy with the performance.  Their customers blather on about generating all the energy they need for their sailboats with this inefficient product.  Why hasn't anyone told them that even though it meets their needs, it's a horrible idea and we've decided it's inefficient?

You all are absolutely correct.  There are solar panels, windmills, and hydro turbines meant for streams and rivers and dams only.  Any other alternative to coal and oil is just a pipe dream that can't possibly work.  I think we should just stick with oil and coal.  If there were a viable, abundant, clean alternative to coal and oil, like, say, harnessing energy from the oceans that cover 70% of our planet, science would have identified it by now and our government would have made sure to implement it.

Skunkeye:
Jeez, guy, don't take it so personally.  I don't think any of us in this forum are really in favor of just continuing to burn fossil fuels until we run out.

But you do understand there's a big difference (in complexity, efficiency, and economics) between a tinkertoy that generates 500 watts of power to charge up a couple deep-cycle batteries on a recreational sailboat, and a floating power plant that would need to harvest many megawatt-hours of electricity to be economically viable, right?  The kinds of solutions that work on small, personal-scale systems (where efficiency isn't quite so important) don't necessarily scale to industrial sizes.  Just like the solutions for fossil-fuel power generation are different for a household generator vs. a steam-turbine power plant.  Both might run on natural gas, but you're not going to generate 50 megawatts to power a city with a gigantic internal-combustion engine, and a teeny-tiny 10 kilowatt steam turbine would be inefficent and overly complex as a single-home backup generator.  You can run a digital clock off a potato and a couple nails, but you can't run a profitable power plant that way, no matter how many potatoes you stack up.  "Horses for courses", as the British say.

Could you build the kind of ship you're talking about?  Probably so.  Would it be cost-competitive with other wind-harvesting technologies already out there?  I don't think it would even be close.

I agree with you, the ocean is a vast, untapped source of energy.  Tidal generators like the ones I linked to earlier are proof that the technology exists to harvest power from the seas.  Other ideas, like floating wave-capture devices (like the Pelamis machine) are still in the prototype stage, but have great potential.

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