Offshore wind farm project could power the entire East Coast

September 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Offshore wind farm project could power the entire East Coast

Loss of Tax Credits Could Cripple Wind Farms


Joe Massimo, Opinion Editor
September 18, 2012
Filed under Opinion

A summer breeze off a Virginia coastline could do more than bluster against the shutters on beach-front property — it could help power the entire Eastern Seaboard. A recent Stanford University study has shown wind turbines off the coasts of Florida to Maine could meet the entire demand for electricity on the East Coast.

It would be a daunting task — more than 144,000 offshore turbines standing 270 feet tall would have to be anchored at sea, according to an NBC report.  However, Mark Jacobson, a Stanford civil and environmental engineering professor, said the study shows it’s doable.

The team at Stanford who did the analysis said expecting the entire East Coast to switch completely over to wind energy would be unrealistic, but wind turbines could account for at least 50 percent of the electricity used in coastal states if constructed.

Today, the U.S. gets about 4 percent of its energy from wind, and only from land-based turbines, meaning there’s plenty of room for expansion.

So far, though, not one offshore wind farm has been built on the East Coast.  Funding isn’t much of an issue; environmental groups and even massive businesses like Google have offered financial assistance in the past, according to CNN.

The real roadblock lies in people, namely beachgoers worried a wind farm might mar their seaside views or hamper boat traffic.

According to NBC, a Massachusetts offshore wind farm project proposed as early as 2001 called Cape Wind has been stalled with more than 10 years of controversy.  Several political heavyweights like the Kennedy family and oil billionaire William Koch have spoken out against Cape Wind, according to a Washington Post article.

Opponents to Cape Wind and other wind farm plans have cited everything from turbines posing hazards to coastal birds to potentially disturbing underwater archeological sites.

What the naysayers of wind power always seem to forget, however, is that our other options for energy are running out.  Resources like coal and nuclear power can’t last forever, and the sooner the U.S. starts investing in alternative energy sources, the better.

Using wind energy as a primary energy source isn’t a completely radical idea to the world.  Countries like Denmark and Germany have already installed large-scale wind farms off their shores, taking advantage of a resource as free as the air we breathe — mostly because it actually is the air we breathe. If European nations are willing to make the leap to renewable energy, why can’t the U.S. do the same?

If an unfettered shoreline view is the only thing keeping cleaner energy off the table, then many Americans need to rethink their priorities.

Even in areas where offshore wind farms would be visible, they would be so far off the coast that they would only appear as tall as a person’s thumb, according to NBC.

In the end, the issue boils down to whether or not U.S. citizens want to start building a better life for themselves and future generations.

During an interview with reporters, Jacobson asked potential critics of wind power if conventional methods were really any better.

“Would [people] rather have a coal or natural power gas plant in their neighborhood, which affects their health and that of their children as well as their quality of life and property values, or an innocuous turbine that they could barely see during those times when they were actually looking offshore?” Jacobson said.

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