May 6th, 2010
And now for some good news in offshore energy production…
By Matt McKeon-Slattery | Comments (4)
According to the Boston Globe
, Secretary Ken Salazar (former U.S. Senator from Colorado and current Secretary of the Interior) approved the country’s first offshore wind farm.
Cape Wind Associates
plans to construct 130 turbines 5 miles off Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound
’s Horseshoe Shoal by the end of this year, with operations expected to continue for 21 years.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="450" caption="Massachusetts Wind Resource Map - Image via Wikipedia"]
In addition to the NIMBY resistance from locals in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard
and Nantucket, as well as the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound
, the project had been opposed by two Wampanoag Native American tribes for two reasons:
- spiritually, the 400 ft turbines would disturb sun greetings; and,
- archaeologically, as Nantucket Sound was once exposed land, the turbines might disturb artifacts and burial grounds now located on the sea bed
Some combination of painting the turbines off white and financial compensation is expected to placate the Wampanoag. The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound is filing suit to get an injunction to stop the project.
The wind farm is expected to generate about 75% of the electric needs of the Cape and its islands, but at higher prices than that of traditional coal and gas power (again, according to the Boston Globe).
Cape Wind Associates
claims that the project will, overall, cut electricity costs. Their simulations (using PROSYM) project annual savings of about $25 million for the New England electricity market.
Currently, wind power only accounts for about 1% of the U.S. energy market, compared with 4.8% for the entire European Union and 7.5% for Germany alone.
Since the supply of wind fluctuates, negative energy prices sometimes occur in places with poor integration with the overall transmission grid. This occurred in Texas in early 2008, and is a continuing problem for German utility companies, who had received government subsidies to construct turbines in the first pace.
There are measures that power companies are taking to fix this problem.
“In Scandinavia, Danish wind power is used to pump water into Norwegian and Swedish reservoirs and later released to drive hydroelectric plants when the wind is not blowing.”
“Nord Pool, the Nasdaq OMX Group Inc.-owned Scandinavian power bourse, last year took steps to encourage generators to limit production by implementing a minimum price. The most generators would pay users to take their power is 200 euros per megawatt hour if there is excess electricity from too much wind.”