“As a bizzare hypothetical, shouldn’t we develop the Antarctic to develop wind power?”
So said Mark Hill at Club Troppo. Consider this as an idea. The main problem with wind power is just that the wind isn’t consistent enough. But Marks idea is different. Because you get no more consistent winds then what are to be found off the coast of Antarctica.
T. Boone Pickens is taking advantage of a wind corridor coming up through a small part of the North American continent. He is a self-respecting businessman who does not ask for subsidies. We can be confident that this is a money-making proposition for Pickens. And I note in passing that one year he put in an income tax return of 800 million USD.
But while he can get good winds going across a thin stretch of the American continent still more consistent winds can be found out at sea. But the capital investment is far higher. You have to somehow anchor all your turbines to the bottom of the ocean.
Marks idea is cool because the winds are so powerful and consistent down there. But you wouldn’t be going down there to just start setting up power generation. Rather you would be going up there to exploit other industry. And you would find yourself with a plentiful source of cheap energy if you were in the right place and were geared up to take advantage of it.
You do things bit by bit. Back off the coast of Australia pulling in a bit of wind power from the sea will become a more ubiquitous activity if we are able to have people homesteading small ocean-based property for the purpose of aquaculture. Because you’d have your setup out there. With your nets and platforms, floating and anchored. And then being out there and having these consistent winds blowing you might decide to take advantage of the opportunity to draw some power from these winds.
A couple of decades ago the Labour parties ludicrous love of meaningless symbolism came to the fore when the stupid bastards decided to set up these international treaties to cut Antarctica off from commercial development. Marks suggestion now tells us how idiotic and harmful this bit of vanity was.
Actually I’m now thrown into a bit of confusion as to what the Keating/Hawke crowd were up to back then. My memory isn’t up to it. They must have been somehow strengthening the existing treaty. Because I have the following quote:
Supposing you went to Antarctica to homestead a port and a fish processing plant. Because there can be no doubt about it that it is way down South there that will be one of the few places where good and economic fishing is still a possibility now that overfishing is a big feature everywhere else…
…….. So supposing you did this. Well if you chose your position wisely your whole setup could be made more viable via access to an enourmous amount of consistent windpower. You would get the best fish catches anywhere on the planet. No doubt about that at all. The refrigeration would be basically free. And you would have all this cheap electricity generation. So what starts off as a fish port, fishing operation, and processing plant could start growing on the backs of ubiquitous cheap energy.
You have to start these things somewhere. And its something that would never happen in a great big hurry. But it cannot begin at all if we have these idiot politicians making idiotic treaties for no reason at all.
There can be little doubt that the unexploited continent of Antarctica will hold an enourmous amount of resources. The amount of oil and coal locked up in that Continent, will be truly awesome. Like a New North and South America all rolled into one and millions of tonnes of base and precious metals as well. A potential El Dorado. But its such a harsh environment that the exploitation of these resources will always be a foolish daydream until you have a lot of small business infrastructure on the coast.
WINDPOWER IS NOTHING COMPARED TO THE POTENTIAL OF EXPLOITING THE CIRCUMPOLAR CURRENT.
The Antarctic circumpolar current is such an interesting feature of our whole climate system that I think it is worthwhile going into it in some depth.
We are talking about a current that just goes around and around and around the continent of Antarctica. This is a current with far more power than the Gulf stream. It is my view that we will live in a too-cold planet just so long as this pattern exists. If for some reason the Southern Hemisphere obtained for itself a more OUT-AND-BACK current like the Gulfstream then we would have the opportunity of having the ice age end. But whilst we still have this circumpolar current around Antarctica all talk of dangerous global warming would appear to be just plain silly.
Now think of the ability to obtain the equivalent of hydro-electric power from this awesome current? I mean the ability to gain massive amounts of wind power is obvious enough. But how about channeling some of this current to turn turbines?