Saturday, June 20, 2015

States See Renewable Future in Offshore Wind Farms

Sheringham Shoal Wind Farm in the UK under construction in 2011. (Credit: Statkraft/flickr) Click to Enlarge.
Sandy beaches, water parks and T-shirt shops draw millions of tourists to Myrtle Beach, S.C., each summer, but officials there think they might have something else tourists may be interested seeing — offshore wind turbines.

“We think that the artificial reef it creates could be another piece of the tourist offerings in our area,” Greg Hembree, a Republican state senator from North Myrtle Beach, said, speaking Wednesday at the North American Offshore Wind Summit in New York City.  “We see wind as a way to diversify.”

Developers and government officials gathered at the summit said they are optimistic that water-bound wind turbines will eventually catch on in the U.S. as they have in Europe.  The Obama administration sees wind turbines in the Atlantic as a way to help tackle climate change by weaning the country’s electric power supply away from fossil fuels.

More than 2,300 wind turbines operate off the coasts of 11 countries in Europe, especially in the North and Irish seas, but not a single offshore wind turbine exists in the U.S. today.

Progress toward offshore wind development in the U.S. was impeded in December when a major wind farm proposal off the coast of Massachusetts suffered a significant setback.  But developers are hopeful that the beginning of construction this summer on a wind farm in Rhode Island — and new U.S. development interest from Dong Energy, Europe’s most successful offshore wind developer — means the future is bright for offshore wind energy in the U.S., Michael Drunsic, offshore wind lead for risk management firm DNV GL, said.

All eyes are on Rhode Island, where construction on the Block Island Wind Farm — likely to become the nation’s first offshore wind farm — is set to get underway this summer.  If it is successful, the project could demonstrate the viability of offshore wind in the U.S.

This spring, Dong Energy purchased from the federal government the development rights to 470 miles of open ocean off the Massachusetts coast south of Martha’s Vineyard with the intention of developing a 1 gigawatt wind farm there.

New York State is particularly bullish on offshore wind, partly because the state can develop wind power very close to the regions that use the most energy — New York City and Long Island.  The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that offshore wind turbines could generate 40 gigawatts of electricity — enough for more than 11 million homes — at maximum build-out along the state’s coastline.

Read more at States See Renewable Future in Offshore Wind Farms

No comments:

Post a Comment