Offshore Wind Gathers Force

Feds seeking public input

Bill Opalka | Jul 13, 2011


Federal regulation of offshore wind development took another step forward with the release this week of a draft environmental assessment. The public is now being asked for input in a program that could open up areas off the Mid-Atlantic coast.

The EA is a piece of the Interior Department’s “Smart from the Start” initiative for Atlantic offshore wind development. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) said comments are being solicited to consider potential environmental and socioeconomic effects of issuing renewable energy leases in designated Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

“America’s offshore wind resources offer great potential for helping power the Eastern seaboard and spurring new jobs and innovation,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “The ‘Smart from the Start’ initiative will help companies identify areas offshore that are best suited for wind development, while also reducing the potential for costly delays and red tape. With today’s announcement, we are taking another step toward ensuring that renewable development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) becomes a reality.”

The draft EA also considers potential environmental impacts associated with site assessment activities such as the installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys on leases that may be issued in these areas.

According to BOEMRE’s Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Forces, wind energy areas have been identified off the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. In square nautical miles, the areas measure: New Jersey, 418; Delaware, 122; Maryland, 94; and Virginia, 164.

This draft EA is part of the “Smart from the Start” initiative being led by Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes and Director Bromwich to facilitate efficient and environmentally-responsible development of renewable energy resources on the Atlantic OCS. The initiative includes the identification of areas on the OCS that appear to be suitable for renewable energy development where BOEMRE will focus its leasing efforts. Any leases ultimately issued will not authorize construction or operations; instead, specific proposed projects will be the subject of subsequent environmental review and analysis with additional opportunities for public comment.

An EA is not as stringent or time-consuming as other site evaluations. BOEMRE says the comments will assist in determining if an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) needs to be prepared, or whether a Finding of No Significant Impact is warranted in connection with issuing renewable energy leases on the OCS offshore the mid-Atlantic states.

A recent study just released extols the potential of offshore wind energy with a potential for 127 gigawatts, at a reasonable costs and with significant economic development. The potential using very conservative methods, to show that offshore wind on the Atlantic coast could provide much greater energy potential than offshore oil and gas combined.

The days to determine if this can become reality are drawing closer.

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Futility of Offshore Wind

I hope that potential offshore wind projects for New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia will be more successful than the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts. Since its inception 10 years ago, Cape Wind has required 20 approval signatures; suffered numerous hearings; involved capital equipment that exceeds the cost of fossil fuel, electric generation equipment; has only one utility so far to take 50% of the electricity generated; and will produce electricity that exceeds the cost of electricty from conventional generation sources. Other than all that, Cape Wind is a great idea. Please see my blog posts for more information. 

Dr. Jeffrey Everson;

offshore Wind Farms

Initiatives of 'SMART FROM START" will help to expansion of offshore wind farms.

The 9 European countries with offshore wind power capacity in 2010 were:

1.        UK — 1,341 MW

2.        Denmark — 854 MW

3.        Netherlands — 249 MW

4.        Belgium — 195 MW

5.        Sweden — 164 MW

6.        Germany — 92 MW

7.        Ireland — 25 MW

8.        Finland — 26 MW

9.        Norway — 2.3 MW

In 2011, offshore wind power capacity is expected to grow by around 1,000 or 1,500 MW. Currently, there are 13 European wind farms in development that, in total, are projected to have a capacity of nearly 4,000 MW. So, in total, when these are completed, installed offshore wind capacity will hit be close to 7,000 MW.

Many countrieslike China,South Korea,Taiwan,France are going in a big way to install offshore wind farms.

Since US is already having huge capacity of onshore Wind farms,it is hoped the offshore wind farms will follow.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh  Nellore(AP),India

Wind Energy Expert