Ocean Currents » renewable energy http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Sat, 29 Aug 2015 12:30:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 How Rhode Island Wind Can Help Take Us Far, Quickly http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/13/how-rhode-island-wind-can-take-us-far-quickly/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/13/how-rhode-island-wind-can-take-us-far-quickly/#comments Thu, 13 Jun 2013 15:04:37 +0000 Sandra Whitehouse http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6079

I had the opportunity to meet with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss the impacts of climate change on Rhode Island. This included the marine impacts, such as warming bay waters, and increased intensity of storms.

The winds on Rhode Island’s waters made them the location of choice for the America’s Cup sailing races for over a century. While harnessing that wind for energy may be only a small piece of the global picture, it can contribute to broader efforts to mitigate climate change.

We discussed the proactive planning process that Rhode Island completed in 2010, which resulted in the designation of a renewable energy area in state waters. Deepwater Wind has already applied to build a 30 megawatt demonstration-scale offshore wind farm in this area, which might become the first offshore wind to be harnessed in the US.

As the keynote speaker for Rhode Island Energy and Environmental Leaders Day, Gore commended Rhode Island’s smart ocean planning and its robust engagement of stakeholders.

“Congratulations to Rhode Island; one of the things this little engine that can has done is to bring all the stakeholders together in a very intelligent way, and move quickly,” he said. “You know, there’s an old Native American saying: If you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. We have to go far, quickly. And that’s what you’re doing by getting your act together and figuring out the problems and the points of opposition in advance, and getting people to work together.”

Many of the people in the audience came away feeling inspired that maybe we can address climate change before it’s too late. I know I did.

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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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Air Traffic Control for the Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/16/air-traffic-control-for-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/11/16/air-traffic-control-for-the-ocean/#comments Fri, 16 Nov 2012 18:57:49 +0000 Susan Olcott http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3562

Map of sensitive habitats off the coast of New England. Click for a larger version.

At a given time, our air is filled with thousands of planes intersecting each other’s flight paths in a coordinated fashion. The same is true for our ocean and its industries – and a new map shows just that. The New England Ocean Action Network (NEOAN), a group of organizations supportive of ocean planning, created the map to illustrate just how many different activities occur in the ocean – ferry routes, shipping lanes, sanctuary boundaries, fishing grounds, whale habitat and proposed wind energy areas, to name a few. Imagine trying to coordinate these uses so that they don’t all end up on top of each other or harm to the ecosystem on which they depend.

This coordination is one of the goals of the National Ocean Policy. Each of nine regions around the country will establish a Regional Planning Body (RPB), comprised of representatives from state and federal agencies, tribal members and the regional fishery management council. These regional groups will be guided by local stakeholders and the public and will work to create a plan to guide the various uses of the oceans for its member states. The New England RPB will be holding its first meeting next week – the first official meeting of any around the country – to begin the creation of a plan for its coasts and oceans.

Mapping the uses and resources in a region is an enormous task in and of itself. To create the most thorough picture, input from those who use the oceans and know them best is essential. To that end, the RPBs will not only be filling in the maps, so to speak, but will work with a variety of people who care about the ocean for different reasons from recreation to storm protection to jobs.

New England is ahead of the game in many respects – two of its states, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, already have plans for their state waters. They have also begun coordinating across state boundaries to identify potential wind energy areas in both state and federal waters. The states created maps that allow planners to overlay things like areas of sensitive habitat and areas of high wind energy in order to avoid siting new developments in ways that would damage ecological resources. Now we need to create a regional ocean atlas that can do the same for all New England waters.

Given the variety of ocean uses in New England, along with new developments, such as renewable energy, it is not surprising that it is the first region to kick off the regional planning process. Much work lies ahead and the evolution of maps like these should become decision tools used to ensure a sustainable future for all our ocean resources.

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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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