The idea of floating power stations isn’t a new one. In fact, there are well over 100 floating power stations around the globe right now providing over 6 GW of power to people who need it. Most of these power stations are located on barges that have to be towed from one place to another, although a few of them are located of self propelled vessels. New York City is looking to place one of the self propelled type units in the Wallabout Channel next to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The power plant would be natural gas fired, making it cleaner than coal, but still the quite as environmentally friendly as some of the other waterborne options that have come down the pipe as of late. What it will do, however, is replace the need for between 160 and 320 trailer mounted diesel power generators that are currently used to bring power to high need areas during the hot summer season. Because the floating power plant will be mobile, it can quickly be moved to locations of high need without having to mobilize a fleet of semi tractors. This provides a huge reduction is diesel consumption in travel needs alone.
The biggest energy saver, though, it the ability for the floating power plant to hold a full 3 day fuel supply onboard. It could run continuously, only needing to take on fuel twice or three times a week. The standard diesel generators currently in use can only hold enough fuel on-board to run for a little over 8 hours at a time. Then they must be refueled by tanker trucks. This is yet another reduction in fuel usage.
Although the current project will use natural gas to generate electricity, it may lead to the acceptance of waterborne power plants in the area. If that is the case, perhaps New York will start seeing floating wind generating platforms like the one recently launched off the coast of Denmark. The Poseidon 37 is a prototype floating power generator that captures both wind and wave power.
The Hudson River has all of the current, both water and air, that is needed to generate a good amount of power. If a floating power station was equipped with its own propulsion system, it could feasibly move to the location where it would generate the most power at any given time during the day.
The question for legislators and energy companies in the New York City area is, are they willing to put their money where the environment is? Sure, bringing in a natural gas powered, floating generator is great, and it will prevent rolling brownouts in the city, but isn’t there something bigger on the plate here? Why settle for a power plant that produces waste when you could have a very green alternative that did the same job? Hopefully this project is just a stepping stone or band-aid to temporarily stem the problem while green methods are being developed. Unfortunately, that type of optimism is often squashed beneath the profit margin line.
What do you think? Will New York City embrace floating power plants? Will they eventually go green?