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You are here: > News > Oct. 31, 2005

New method would make wind energy primary-grid-power capable.

Floating offshore wind energy and hydrogen fuel generating company tipping to Europe or Asia

Inventor Tom L. Lee, Ph.D. has developed a floating wind turbine platform concept for accessing the higher winds out at sea, and converting wind energy efficiently to hydrogen and electricity. Would prefer to license its manufacture and distribution to a U.S. party.

    "This technology has the capacity to quickly revolutionize the global wind energy sector, the global hydrogen economy/fuel cell sector, and the global power industry."

-- Tom L. Lee, Ph.D.
President of Stanbury Resources, Inc. (Oct. 31, 2005)

by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News -- Exclusive, Breaking
Copyright © 2005


Primitive energy in Africa, begs for solutions.

A Vision to Alleviate Poverty

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN, USA -- Twelve years ago, when he was living in Africa, Dr. Thomas L. Lee wanted to do something to help solve the intermittent power problem that he experienced routinely.  He felt there just had to be a way for the power to be more reliable, more affordable, and more accessible to people in poverty-stricken areas of the world.

After years of research and development, he has now arrived at a point where he is ready to implement his solution, which he thinks could be one the most significant developments in the world, "to give developing countries the same advantage we now have."

The application would not be limited to undeveloped countries. The green energy and the savings from fuelless power would be of interest to developed countries as well. All nations are looking for effective ways to eliminate their dependence on polluting fossil fuels and not just from supplemental sources, but for primary power capabilities.

Commercial wind energy in general achieved the milestone earlier this year of becoming competitive with conventional grid energy sources, going down into the 4-6 cents per kilowatt-hour range. (Ref.)

Lee's invention of a floating wind-hydrogen platform with battery storage, developed by his company,  Stanbury Resources Inc., accomplishes three things to push yet beyond that.

The Advantages

Concept drawing by Tom L. Lee. (with permission)

Stanbury Resources Inc. does not mount wind turbines on the sea floor, but deploys them on floating platforms on bodies of water of any depth, from 15 meters to 15,000 feet. These floating turbine platforms will be easily repositioned under their own power; and may be situated a considerable distance from land.

First, their turbines are designed to install onto a floating platform, like an oil rig, so they can go to where the wind is -- further out to sea -- in contrast to present offshore wind turbines, which must be situated near the coast in waters shallow enough to build a platform onto the sea floor.

Lee refers to a "wind shadow" that extends from between a quarter of a mile to as much as a full mile out from the coast, dampening the strength of the wind as it comes ashore. "We can go far out beyond that, to where the wind is," he said. "Offshore wind resources can be vastly more power productive than onshore winds, particularly if not influenced or affected by large land masses".

"In addition to global oceanic deployment, this technology is also ideally suited for deployment on Lake Michigan, on Lake Ontario, and other Great Lakes", he adds. If shipping lanes allow, this would enable power development without needing to use up valuable land in this highly-populated region.

Second, the company has a proprietary method of tapping the wind turbine energy to convert sea water efficiently into hydrogen, with a byproduct of pure oxygen.

Third, rather than the wind energy being conveyed directly into the grid, it is stored in a battery system so that it is available continuously and can be used as a primary grid energy system.

While the batteries make the system more expensive than other wind systems, what they do is make the system capable of being a primary energy system, rather than just supplemental.  Now the system can provide a continuous flow of energy.

But even more importantly, a battery-based system has the advantage of being able to supply the energy in response to the grid needs.  It can respond to peaks and valleys, rather than having to ramp up to peak load and then waste everything else, which is the case with nuclear power, and to a lesser extent with coal, natural gas, and hydro grid power stations. (Ref.)

While the technology is new, it is based on well-proven energy capture and power generation principles, and is protected by currently pending Patents," said Lee.  The two patent filings contain around 45 claims.

Aboard the Platforms (similar to oil rigs)

Government Study
"The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory did a feasibility study on these types of floating turbine farms and found that they could be built using existing technology and provide electricity at approximately $0.05/kWh. The turbines studied did not include the battery storage and hydrogen production described [here]." (Ref.)

Though hydrogen burns cleanly, typically its production is tied to polluting processes, and is accompanied by a net energy loss, requiring more fuel to create than it gives off. Lee's system produces hydrogen cleanly, with no pollution, from energy that is free for the taking – wind.

Their system does not go straight from the turbines to electrolysis, but involves batteries. Though proprietary, Lee said that the process was "embarrassingly simple." He is not permitted to elaborate further, but states simply: "Our new hydrogen system has solved the net energy deficit dilemma."

Not all of the company's platforms would involve hydrogen production.

The platforms on which hydrogen production would take place would need to be quite a bit larger to house the pressurized tanks holding the hydrogen.  The hydrogen would be shipped to ports where it would be offloaded onto tanker trucks and trains.  Oil tankers would require very little modification to haul hydrogen, Lee said.

The floating platforms would cause minimal disruption to the sea floor below, requiring just a modified anchor to keep them moored in place.  The platform would be held upright by an underwater keel, along with some dynamic ballast controls and a four-direction propulsion pod system.

Related Project

Wind power project floating out to North Sea
Norwegian utility will anchor floating 660-foot-tall post, 200-foot-long blades. Expected 2007. If the concept works, Norsk Hydro envisions parks of perhaps 200 windmills, in waters 700-2,200 feet deep. (PESN; Nov. 3, 2005)

The electrical cables running from the platform to onshore would be small.  Lee reminisced back to the 1870's when a 4000 mile cable was run from the U.S. to England.  "Cabling has come a long way, and is very efficient today, with very, very low transmission resistance" he said.  He envisions that distances of even 1000 miles would not be a problem for the platform, to situate it well, and then transmit the electricity to its destination.

Though fitted for occupancy, the platform would be navigable by remote control, with continuous GPS position reporting, and would not require occupancy other than for occasional maintenance.

While the systems would generally be installed in regions that are not as prone to severe weather, in the case of an approaching storm, the platform would be navigated out of the way, hoisting the anchors onto the platform.  With modern satellite systems and weather forecasting, there would be ample forewarning to move the platform out of harm's way if necessary.  Lee said the platform could move at around 20 knots.

An onboard cable reeling system could accommodate movements of up to three miles without requiring detachment.  If the electrical cables need to be detached, they would be held in place by a buoy, until the platform returns.

"All of this can be done by remote control", said Lee.

In addition to shipping lane considerations for site location selection, the turbine flotilla would also be situated away from bird migratory pathways.  "And there is no noise," Lee adds, referring to the distance that the turbines would be from shore.  While sound does carry better over the generally flat surface of water, Lee claims that just one mile distance is adequate for the noise to dissipate to zero. 

There are "thousands" of suitable locations worldwide, according to Lee.

Lee envisions these platforms being installed in third-world regions, underwritten by more wealthy companies. He believes that companies would work with the local governments for possible part ownership and control (to the extent that the local government can afford), and then provide the power at a rate lower, and at a stability much greater than is possible for such countries at present.  While such philanthropy by wealthy companies in the West is rare, Lee said he witnessed it repeatedly when living in Africa.

The company has considered vertical-axis turbines, but chose to go with the horizontal, propeller turbines inasmuch as there is a much larger body of data by which to determine the optimal combinations of height, diameter, concentration, batteries required, electricity generation, and other variables in designing a platform.  As more information becomes available on vertical-axis turbines, Lee anticipates that the company may begin to use those as well.

Prefers U.S. Licensee

Lee said that his company is "
presently engaged in advanced technology licensing discussions with a large European industrial group, and with an Asian industrial conglomerate."  Both have been pursuing the technology aggressively and would like exclusive license rights for manufacturing, distribution, and operation worldwide.  Both are experienced in large-scale industrial manufacturing as well as in energy.  The European interest also has experience in wind power.  "This would be a short leap for them," Lee said.

Lee's interest in seeing a U.S. company license the technology stems from patriotism.  "Since 1777, my family has fought in every major U.S. conflict."  "
I would personally prefer to see global control of this technology remain in the hands of an American entity or entities."

He has approached a number of power producers in the U.S., but has thus far been met with a yawn.  "They prefer to stay with something they are comfortable with -- [usually] coal;
whereas the Europeans and Asians have been extremely aggressive in wanting to secure control of this technology."

"The U.S. is great at coming up with innovations, but they end up being developed outside the United States", Lee said.

In Asia, wind is not fringe.  It is mainstream.  "Every major power company in China is involved in wind energy development in some way," Lee said.  "Same in Japan and Korea."

The Asian interest would like to have systems up and running within two years.  "The European party is a little more laid back, though they would also be capable of having something in place that soon," Lee said.

Founded around a decade ago, Stanbury Resources, Inc., of which Lee is president, is a research and development company under the ownership of the Howard Lee Trust, of which Lee is trustee. The late Howard Lee was Tom's father. In addition to Lee, whose doctoral degree was in Communications, the other three individuals in the company are engineers, one of which is a maritime professional.   This off-shore wind/hydrogen project has been their exclusive focus as a company.

This off-shore wind/hydrogen project has been their exclusive focus as a company. They have built several small-scale prototypes of the design, at less than 1/100th-scale.

The company is not publicly traded, and "never will" be, said Lee. In the future, they might attempt some manufacturing and operations themselves, but for now they are going to license other companies to do this.

Lee describes this as a "huge business opportunity," and wishes that an American company would express as much interest as the European and Asian companies have.

Stanbury Resources Inc. does not yet have a website, nor have they sought media coverage. This will be the first significant coverage that they have received.

# # #


  • Phone interview with Tom L. Lee, Ph.D., Oct. 31, 2005
  • Email correspondence with Tom Lee.



Tom L. Lee, Ph.D. <email >
Howard H. Lee Trust
2710 Boston S.E.
East Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506
Telephone (616) 957-4166


Related Coverage

  • Wind power project floating out to North Sea - Norwegian utility will anchor floating 660-foot-tall post, 200-foot-long blades. Expected 2007. If the concept works, Norsk Hydro envisions parks of perhaps 200 windmills, in waters 700-2,200 feet deep. (PESN; Nov. 3, 2005)



Potential and Challenges of Wind

From: Dave Muchow
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 5:39 PM

Sterling: You called and asked for my thoughts on this story.

Wind, and particularly off shore wind has great potential. And some believe that there is more potential than is generally known in many off shore areas because frequently, wind power measurements tend to be taken near sea level rather than at other altitudes or farther out to sea.

Some of the challenges to harnessing this wind power include providing a stable platform that can sustain storms and the torque generated by the turbines; finding the best way to convert wind power to other useful energy and then distributing it back to load centers, and the power losses that can result from electrical resistance at longer distances.. Also, each time wind power goes through another process such as being used to create hydrogen, or when it is put into batteries, and then cycled out, some total system efficiency is lost. So the economics will be challenging as compared to direct wind to grid systems. The platforms, batteries, hydrogen systems and cabling are all expensive, so it would be useful to see comparative analysis of the return on investment for these systems compared to direct wind/grid systems and how many years are required for payback. Traditionally, investors in unproven new technology systems, even with proven components, are interested in ROIs greater than 20% per year.

Dave [Muchow, President and CEO of SkyBuilt (see PESN coverage)]

* * * *


From: [Tom Lee]
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 6:12 PM


I received Dave Muchow's E-mail. He is a very knowledgeable guy, and I agree with virtually all of his comments. His point on the potential of lost, or reduced, system efficiency, is quite valid, and has been factored into our systems. Sustaining storms, and turbine torque, are also extremely valid and important comments, and have been addressed in overall unit design, and in the keel structure and four direction propulsion pod system.

There is one point Dave made that I disagree with: a greater than 20% ROI. I couldn't find a US company interested at any ROI! Which is why the European and/or Asian groups are almost certainly the groups which I will license the technology to. They are aggressive, and they want it badly!


* * * *


From: Dave Muchow
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 6:31 PM

Tom: Kind of a different way to meet, but I'm glad we did - interesting idea and I wish you the very best. You could put some solar panels on your unit as well; and in a current, small hydro.

You're right, US companies frequently are not as inclined to take long lead time risks - they stay closer to their quarterly shareholder reports! Although in some developing countries, payback needs to be in three to five years because of political uncertainties.

Regards, Dave.

* * * *

Thanks for Coverage

Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 10:01 AM

Dr. Sterling:

Good morning. I thought that you would want to know that we are already receiving high volumes of response to your article! This tells me how well read your sites are, and that you have a strong, very knowledgeable readership, which has come to rely on you as a primary source of energy news and information.


* * * *

Ho Hum from U.S. Continues

Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 10:04 AM
Subject: Fwd: New Offshore Wind Energy and Hydrogen Fuel Generating Technology

Dr. Sterling:

Attached is the type of response I have received all over Europe and Asia to our new technology, compared with virtual indifference to it in the United States.


* * * *

National Renewable Energy Laboratory tried to steal?

Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 7:56 PM

Dr. Sterling:

[...] In truth, I have virtually given up on America. The Europeans and Asians take it very seriously, and I am now simply going to stop beating my head into the wall, with respect to American interests. I will let the global free market do its thing.

You may find this entertaining. Some months after my patent fillings, I communicated some details of the energy systems to the NREL, as a courtesy. Would you believe that about a month later, the NREL publicly announced (in association with a private sector company) its intent to develop a wind/hydrogen system that would infringe on my pending Patents? I had some entertaining correspondence with the NREL's staff legal counsel! While I don't practice, I have in many instances found that my legal education has proven to be very cost effective. [...]


* * * *


  • Floating Wind Turbine Platform - Slashdot linked to this story.  See the many comments generated there. (November 02, 08:27 PM)
    • I work in the wind energy industry...  Lee's design strikes me as peculiar:
      1 Wake losses. turbines are usually placed at least 6 rotor diameters downwind of each other in prevailing directions, to avoid onerous fatigue loads. Lee's machines are 1D apart.
      2 Why have the battery storage off-shore? Could there not be a more efficient, and easier to maintain on-shore facility? (Anonymous)
      • It seems to me that the wake issue, and 6D separation factor is the weak point of Lee's design. Too inefficient to build a platform that would enable a separation of 6D. Then again, maybe a combo of Lee and Norsk would be the ideal. For every 6 pillars, individually moored, you could have one floating H-gen / battery platform. But then you loose the advantage of portability. (sterlingda)
    • Why not refit old super tankers, aircraft carriers, oil rigs? Why spend time, effort, and money on a new platform (which from the look of the drawing has a long ways to go before being seaworthy)? (fygment)
    • disconnect cable, attach cable to buouy, raise anchor, tow platform away .... This is the same process used by oil rigs. (Chuckstar)
    • There's more they can do to increase to cost ratio. First, You're out in the middle of the ocean, plenty of sunlight out there, so cover the thing in Solar Cells. Secondly, you're out in the middle of the ocean, plenty of waves out there, why not pick up the wave energy. Third, you're out in the middle of the ocean, there's a significant surface to deep ocean temperature differential out there, pick that up with a stirling engine. And number four, if you produce the hydrogen/oxygen under water rather then on the surface you can allow it too rise to the surface and harvest bubble energy! (transami)
    • Sufficiently more wind than you would have for the power loss for a measly mile of cabling. (James McP)
      • Better power efficiencies - more wind a mile out to sea
      • Reduced risk - fixed turbines cannot be towed out of the way of storms
      • No loss of property - developing nations' only tourism may be beaches
      • risk to animals - many ocean/land transitions are nesting grounds. Migratory birds are evolved enough to be lazy, using major wind currents to boost their efficiency and aiming them right at many turbines
      • Reusability - if a nation uses a set of these to get their economy going enough to build permanent power facilities they can tow them to another region. Alternately they could be resold or moved to areas suffering from natural disasters. You can't resell a wind turbine easily.
      • Reduced military targets - a lot of regions are prone to violence and infrastructure is a big target. A mile of ocean can provide a surprising amount of defense. (Yes, the US military would SEAL right in there but I'm talking "freedom fighter" types who probably don't even have access to a Zodiac.)
      • Safety - Hydrogen production may be seen as a risk to some groups. Putting it a mile out to sea pretty much cuts loss of life down to any onboard staff.
    • Have you ever seen how big oil platforms are? BP's Thunder Horse is 112m wide, 136m long, and 130m high. It weighs 60,000 tons. GE's biggest turbines are 75m tall at the hub and weigh 300 tons. You could easily place one of these turbines at each of the four corners of Thunder Horse. (Chuckstar)
    • ...In fact, there is an engineering challenge: How to make longer wings. Currently, a single wing weighs around 20-30 metric tonnes for a length of 60 meters. Given that the rotational speed is chosen so the the wing tip moves just below the speed of sound, the current bottlenec is to make a wing that doesn't disintegrate under the centrifugal forces imposed on them. From a price/kWh point of view, you want your WTG to have as large a rotor diameter as possible. The increased cost of gearing and generator is a decade lower than the increase in power output. So the main reason WTG's have the size they have now is stress on the wings and for land based turbines, also the logistical problem of getting the wings moved around on the roads. (/Wegge)

See also

Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Oct. 31, 2005
Last updated December 24, 2014





"It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." // "I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right." -- Albert Einstein

ADVISORY: With any technology, you take a high risk to invest significant time or money unless (1) independent testing has thoroughly corroborated the technology, (2) the group involved has intellectual rights to the technology, and (3) the group has the ability to make a success of the endeavor.
All truth passes through three stages:
   First, it is ridiculed;
   Second, it is violently opposed; and
   Third, it is accepted as self-evident.

-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

    "When you're one step ahead
of the crowd you're a genius.
When you're two steps ahead,
you're a crackpot."

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