Cape Wind Approval Sets the Stage for U.S. Offshore Wind

As oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced that the United States would begin tapping an abundant source of clean offshore energy in the United States oceans with the long awaited approval of the Cape Wind project in the Nantucket Sound off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass.capewindmap

As SACE blogged in January, Secretary Salazar held true to his promise to step in the middle of the 9-year Cape Wind permitting discussion and give a final ruling on nation’s first offshore wind farm as a resounding yes.

Ian Bowles, secretary of the Massachusetts executive office of environmental affairs, called the announcement “the shot heard ’round the world for American clean energy.”

If it was the shot heard around the clean energy world, it should be noted that it was more of a starting gun.  The race for offshore wind may have just officially started in the United States, but SACE has experienced first-hand the operation of offshore wind farms in Ireland and in Denmark and can undoubtedly claim that the technology exists, the opportunities are enormous, and the Southeast region has everything to gain by adopting this technology.

The global signal given by the approval of Cape Wind should attract interest and proposals from offshore wind developers up and down the Atlantic Ocean.  These developers come prepared to deliver clean, sustainable electricity to our coastal communities and load centers, bringing with them much needed jobs and economic benefits.

SACE urges our coastal states to welcome this new industry with open arms, and will continue to work directly with, and support, those entities that are working to advance the development of the offshore wind industry.  SACE continues to support the states of North Carolina and South Carolina as they move forward with exploring projects in their own state waters, in order to bypass the regulatory nightmare created by the NIMBY bickering of well-to-do political figures.

Barbara Hill, executive director of Clean Power Now, who has worked tirelessly for over 8 years beating back misinformation and scare tactics by a well-funded opposition, may have spoken for everyone waiting for today’s definitive signal from the federal government on the role of offshore wind in the Unites States’ future when she stated  “we will be partying later tonight.”

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It is clear from the slow growth of the US off-shore wind industry, that it will never rival that of Europe, for several reasons.
• Off-shore wind costs 50% to 100% more than on-shore, for the same nameplate value.
• The US still has lots of good sites for on-shore wind; Europe is starting to run out of places for them.
• Europe has lots of good off-shore sites that are shallow enough for seabed foundations. The US would likely be more dependent on un-proven floating turbines.
• The US has stronger on-shore wind than Europe, so the increase in capacity factors for off-shore compared to on-shore would be less significant.
In other words, maybe Cape Wind was a big fight over nothing.


Comment by Nathan Wilson on May 4, 2010 9:02 pm


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