Synthetic fuel and synthetic natural gas SNG for acceptable prices

The idea suggests itself. The in-principle solution for mankind’s energy problem is synthetic fuel. Its energy supply is constant and reliable. It is also scalable, if one first produces electricity by renewable power sources, such as wind or solar power, which are abundantly available, and then converts it with power-to-gas or power-to-liquid technologies into synthetic fuel or gas. Synthetic natural gas SNG is probably easiest and most convenient to handle, because existing LNG stations in harbors, gas pipelines and gas networks can be used to store and to transport the energy to any point of need.There one can use SNG in existing end-usage devices. Just like fossil fuel or fossil natural gas.

The problem, however, is the production costs of SNG gas or synthetic fuel. You can simply take a conventional wind turbine or photovoltaic panels and then convert the generated electricity into SNG gas or synthetic fuel. This will result in a very high production cost for the gas or fuel, though, and therefore in a high gas or fuel price. A multiple cost as compared to natural gas or other fuel of fossil origin will prevent public acceptance of this solution to prevent emission of greenhouse gases.

The cubic relationship between wind speed and energy

The power and energy that we can harvest from wind is a cubic function of the wind speed. In other words: The gained energy from, for instance, a wind turbine is proportional to the wind speed cubed (P ~ VWind3). This means that higher wind speeds have much higher energy content than lower wind speeds. Double wind speed results in eight times more power or energy.

So it is well worth the effort to move a wind power plant to an area, where the wind is strongest.

Graphic: The cubic relationship between wind speed and power.

A mobile wind power plant on the open ocean

Wind turbines are usually fixed, standing on a base either on land or in shallow waters. Typically a water depth of 40m is the maximum for this type of technology. There have been some experiments with wind turbines mounted on swimming foundations, but with no economical results.

The KITE GAS SHIP is a ship-based mobile wind power plant, which has specifically been designed to harvest wind energy on the open ocean, far from land. The reason to go through this effort is the availability of much higher wind speeds in this deep offshore environment, resulting in a multitude of power and energy to harvest. Calculations show that the KITE GAS SHIP can harvest up to 80 times more wind power than a typical onshore, land-based wind turbine. I can still harvest 11 times more power than an expensive offshore wind turbine.

Graphic: The wind speed over the Atlantic Ocean. Source: NASA.

Graphic: The wind speed over the Pacific Ocean. Source: NASA.

The most stable wind systems on earth are the trade wind zones. One can clearly see these in the above graphics, north and south of the equator, in form of the southeast trade wind and the northeast trade wind. These wind zones move with the seasons. During the northern hemisphere summer they move to the north and during winter to the south. The KITE GAS SHIP power plants move with the seasons, too, for maximum operation time.

Graphic: The annual average wind speed. Source: NASA.

The KITE GAS SHIP actively seeks areas of high wind speeds and navigates there. A further advantage over fixed wind power plants is that it is mobile and it therefore remains in strong wind zones throughout the year, moving with the seasons.

Graphic: The wind over the Atlantic Ocean on 25/7/2017. Source: https://earth.nullschool.net