The Blog Aquatic » offshore wind http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 North America’s First Floating Wind Turbine Raises Need for Smart Ocean Planning http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/07/north-americas-first-floating-wind-turbine-raises-need-for-smart-ocean-planning/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/08/07/north-americas-first-floating-wind-turbine-raises-need-for-smart-ocean-planning/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 20:00:43 +0000 Susan Olcott http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6487 VolturnUS turbine

Photo: Susan Olcott / Ocean Conservancy

When I first saw the VolturnUS, North America’s first floating wind turbine, it was smaller than I had imagined. But once I realized it was just a 1/8 scale model, I knew the potential implications for this new technology were huge.

Developed by the University of Maine’s DeepCWind Consortium, the launch of VolturnUS could mark the beginning of a new industry in Maine. “This project is a first-of-its-kind design to help develop more cost-effective offshore wind technologies,” says Habib Dagher of the DeepCWind Consortium.

Making this happen will be complicated both financially and technologically, but the real question is: How do you decide where to put these turbines?

Back in 2008, the state established an Ocean Energy Task Force to identify ways in which the ocean energy industry could be jumpstarted to provide for cleaner energy sources and local jobs. The task force also wanted to help establish Maine as a leader in the ocean energy arena.

One of the task force’s recommendations was the identification of up to five sites along the coast that would be appropriate for testing ocean energy devices. More than 50 meetings and less than a year later, the agencies involved designated three test sites in Maine’s coastal waters. This was a lot of work to decide what to do with an area less than 5 square nautical miles, which is relatively small compared to the coast of New England.

Collecting data and gathering stakeholder input about ecological and human uses along the entire New England coast is the heady task recently begun by the Northeast Regional Planning Body, an intergovernmental council created by the National Ocean Policy.

The idea of regional ocean planning is to put siting exercises like Maine’s into context by making them part of a region-wide set of publicly accessible information that can be used to inform decisions about what happens where off our coasts, including where to potentially put new uses like renewable energy.

This will mean that ocean businesses won’t have to reinvent the wheel by collecting data and information that are already out there. It will also help us to make the best decisions possible for the long-term ecological and economic health of our coasts.

“Proactive planning can ensure that conflicts with current users are minimized,” says Paul Williamson of the Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative. “Planning will also provide market stability and certainty, reducing risks associated with ocean energy projects and encouraging the massive investment that such projects will require.”

Another goal of regional planning is to coordinate the agencies involved in project permitting so that it is clear to those interested in developing new uses how to proceed.

We need a clear map not only of the resources and uses out there, but also of what needs to happen to get a project in the water. This is something that regional planning can help to address.

The Northeast Regional Planning Body is currently reviewing feedback on their draft planning goals to provide a framework for how they are going to tackle this herculean task. Their next meeting will be this fall.

Meanwhile, new maritime technologies will continue to develop, and we would be wise to create a plan designed to help guide them and to be adaptable for whatever might come next.

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Offshore Wind Moving Closer to Providing Renewable Energy to the East Coast http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/25/offshore-wind-moving-closer-to-providing-renewable-energy-to-the-east-coast/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/25/offshore-wind-moving-closer-to-providing-renewable-energy-to-the-east-coast/#comments Fri, 25 Jan 2013 19:40:31 +0000 Anna Zivian http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4404

Credit: Wind Turbines by Shutterstock/Dennis van de Water

2013 may be a very windy year. All along the Atlantic Coast, offshore renewable power has been getting a boost. In states from North Carolina to Maine, growing support for wind energy has led to practical steps that will get this industry moving.

In North Carolina, Governor McCrory has announced his support for offshore renewable wind development, saying it would help grow North Carolina’s economy and provide jobs. On Tuesday, in Annapolis, Maryland, Governor O’Malley rolled out a bill to create incentives for offshore renewable energy. In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, wind projects are under construction. In Maine, the Public Utilities Commission voted 2-1 on Thursday to approve the terms for Statoil, a Norwegian state energy company, to move forward with a $120 floating wind turbine test project, clearing the biggest step in making the proposal a reality. All along the East Coast, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is moving forward with a public planning to help site offshore wind farms, making sure to consider other ocean users and environmental concerns in the process.

Finally, to help tie it all together, in New Jersey, Atlantic Wind Connection announced that it will be moving forward with plans for the first part of its offshore transmission line that will help connect offshore wind farms to the grid to provide energy to homes and businesses in New Jersey. Construction of the 189-mile segment (of what will eventually be a 350-mile line) is scheduled to be completed by 2015. Even before the line delivers wind energy, it will help (off)shore up the transmission infrastructure.

As we saw from Hurricane Sandy, storms can wreak havoc on the energy distribution system, knocking down power lines and causing hundreds of thousands of people to lose electricity. Having a line offshore and undersea means that at least part of the energy grid will be less vulnerable to the hurricanes and strong storms that are growing more frequent.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made a finding of no competitive interest and approved AWC to move forward with its permitting process in 2011. The public process for approval allows stakeholders, the public and state and federal agencies to review where and how the line will be sited, what impacts construction of the line could cause, and whether there might be any conflicts created by building the line. This smart planning also lets AWC coordinate with other users to figure out the best routes for the line so that it can link up easily to future offshore wind farms as well as to existing onshore infrastructure.

As Atlantic Wind Connection President Markian Melnyk said about ocean planning at a regional meeting in New England, “”What it means for us is greater predictability, lower risk, lower cost. In our view, when you can identify the right places to do ocean energy, you can do everything better — you can do conservation better and can do energy development better. It doesn’t have to be a fight over siting; this type of collaborative siting work helps makes it more about science and more about sound economics than about fighting.”

With the help of collaboration, coordination and smart planning, renewable energy and better infrastructure may soon become a reality on the East Coast.

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Offshore Wind: Not Only an Energy Source, But Economic Opportunity http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/23/offshore-wind-not-only-an-energy-source-but-economic-opportunity/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/10/23/offshore-wind-not-only-an-energy-source-but-economic-opportunity/#comments Tue, 23 Oct 2012 22:27:13 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3266

Credit: phault flickr stream

Good news came out of Delaware today with the announcement that an offshore wind lease has been granted eleven miles off the state’s coast, serving as the first lease completed under the Department of the Interior’s ‘Smart from the Start’ initiative designed to responsibly develop offshore wind. And with the findings of a recent study, the emerging offshore wind industry has outstanding potential to not only strengthen our energy security, but create jobs and benefit the American economy.

A study conducted for the Atlantic Wind Connection confirmed earlier this month that large-scale development of offshore wind would create more than 70,000 jobs through the manufacturing, building, operating, and maintaining of massive turbines in the Mid-Atlantic region. With the 40,000 additional jobs needed to serve this supply chain, this adds up to over 110,000 new jobs created by the development of this nascent industry on the East Coast.

Additionally, increased activity surrounding the ports used for the construction and maintenance of offshore turbines can supply another 50,000 jobs to local economies as those employed by the industry frequent local restaurants, groceries and other small businesses.

However, our coastal waters are already bustling with activity and introducing this new industry only adds to the mix. The overwhelming amount of data and information needed to effectively balance ocean uses and preserve fragile marine ecosystems hinders the development of new activity on our coasts, including activities that will enhance America’s ocean economy with the development of renewable energy resources.

Fortunately progress is being made. Current research efforts such as the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Mid-Atlantic Baseline Study and the launch of regional data portals in New England and the Mid-Atlantic are beginning to provide the necessary information to inform siting and permitting of future projects and avoid potential conflicts. And with federal support through the National Ocean Policy, coordinated interagency processes can provide the data, analysis, public engagement and monitoring needed to identify and resolve issues to move the process forward efficiently while safeguarding our marine environment.

Offshore energy developers have said that the National Ocean Policy and comprehensive ocean planning makes smart business sense and will not only help provide clean energy for our nation, but will also create the new jobs our economy needs. The potential for job growth and energy production from offshore wind development is incredible, and with informed and coordinated planning, we can all benefit.

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