Wanted: a teleporter for wind farms

Want £100,000? All you have to do is come up with a way of getting engineers and equipment out to the wind farms of the future.

Except it’s not quite as simple as that. While wind farms today are located typically less than 20km from the shore, the next generation of farms could be as far out as 300km, where waves can reach three metres high.

In conditions such as those, transporting workers and equipment out to the farms themselves is pretty difficult, and we’re not just talking about the seasickness that traditionally accompanies such trips.

As Charles Hendry, the UK energy minister, says:

As developers seek to get wind turbines into deeper waters, where the wind blows more wildly and the waves are stronger, it is vital that access and safety are maximised and costs minimised.

All of this is why the Carbon Trust is launching a competition to create solutions to this transportation project, with the winners receiving funding of up to £100,000 to develop their concepts.

So in the spirit of competition (and boosting my meagre journalist’s salary), I’ve come up with some suggestions:

  1. Teleportation. If it’s good enough for Captain Kirk…
    Pros: Fast, easy, painless (as far as I know)
    Cons: Doesn’t actually exist
  2. A very long plank. Who needs high tech? A simple piece of wood stretching from the port out to the wind farm would do the trick.
    Pros: Cost effective, technology already exists
    Cons: After nine days of solid walking, workers may feel a little fatigued
    Or if you’re feeling really high tech:
  3. A very long bridge.
    Pros: Reliable, and saves walking. Not quite as mad as it seems: it would only take 3.8 Weinan Weihe Grand Bridges, end to end, to make the journey
    Cons: OK, it’s still pretty mad
  4. Helicopter. I did actually suggest this to someone who raised the problem with me the other day. At which point they burst out laughing.
    Pros: Fast, reliable, readily available
    Cons: Really quite expensive (hence the laughter)

Think you can do better? Post your ideas below. Or better still, get in touch with the Carbon Trust. There could be £100,000 in it.

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