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)
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.
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
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
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
Aboard the Platforms (similar to oil rigs)
"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
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
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
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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,
- 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
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%
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.
* * * *
Thanks for Coverage
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 10:01 AM
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
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
[...] 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. [...]
* * * *
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
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
- Better power efficiencies - more wind a mile out to sea
- Reduced risk - fixed turbines cannot be towed out of the way of
- No loss of property - developing nations' only tourism may be
- 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
- 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
- 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
- ...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)
Page composed by Sterling
D. Allan Oct. 31, 2005
Last updated July 01, 2007