One that's sure to capture the gee whiz super shiny monkey imagination: The US and UK have announced that they will be collaborating on developing...wait for it...floating offshore wind turbines, capable of operating in waters up to 500' deep.
OK, floating offshore wind turbines have been in the works for a while (the image at the top of the post is one concept that's been, um, floating around for a while), with several different methods proposed to fix them to the sea floor as well as how to best balance them. But none have reached commercial viability yet. Check out the links at left for more.Business Week says,
Britain is offering 25 million pounds ($40.2 million) to contractors who can demonstrate floating offshore wind technology and will pick winners of the funds next year. The program seeks turbines that can generate as much as 7 megawatts of power by 2016. The U.S. has offered $180 million for four demonstration projects, one of which may include a floating wind power system.
A couple benefits of floating turbines: 1) They could be placed farther out to sea than conventional offshore turbines, eliminating complaints about despoiling the visual environment; 2) they theoretically could be towed to shore should they require extensive maintenance.
Considering the US has exactly zero offshore wind farms under construction, and exactly zero completed for that matter, there's something tragic in this—racing ahead on what's next when what already exists isn't even exploited.