Monday, December 06, 2010

Ocean of opportunity

The National Wildlife Federation has just published a very timely and extremely well done report that places the U.S. offshore wind energy opportunity right where it should be - squarely in the middle of our discussions around the nation's climate change options.

Download it and read it. Encourage others (especially offshore wind skeptics/critics) to do so as well. (GW)

REPORT: Offshore wind is next clean energy wave for Northeast

National report tallies up to 6 gigawatts of Atlantic offshore wind projects

West Hartford News

December 5, 2010

CONNECTICUT – Up and down the Atlantic coast, states and offshore wind developers are making significant progress in advancing offshore projects according to a new report. The report finds that up to six gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects have been proposed along the Atlantic coast - the equivalent of about five coal-fired power plants and enough to power about 1.5 million average U.S. homes annually. Based on government analysis, the Atlantic Ocean has significant offshore wind potential, with over 212 GW of wind resources in shallow waters where current technology is best suited.

While Connecticut has modest potential for offshore wind, in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts the report finds a total of over 90 GW of wind potential in shallow water, over 38 GW of which are commercially viable when environmental and socioeconomic factors are taken into account. The report includes a chart for each state’s offshore wind resource, breaking down the data by water depth and distance offshore.

“984 offshore wind turbines are spinning right now in Europe and not one in the Atlantic,” said Curtis Fisher, Offshore Wind Initiative Leader at the National Wildlife Federation,. “The six gigawatts of proposed Atlantic offshore wind projects are a great start, but we need a coordinated and comprehensive effort of government and the market to bring these and other projects over the finish line in a way that values the precious Atlantic Ocean ecosystem and its fish and wildlife resources. This new industry holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.”

The report, Offshore Wind in the Atlantic: Growing Momentum for Jobs, Energy Independence, Clean Air, and Wildlife Protection, makes the following key findings:

· Every state with significant offshore wind resources from Maine to Georgia has some taken some steps forward on offshore wind. Northern states (Maine to Maryland) have the most advanced projects while Southern states (Virginia to Georgia) are quickly mobilizing on a series of projects. See detailed chart and state profiles.

· The Atlantic’s shallow water characteristics combined with excellent wind speed make it an ideal location for offshore wind farms. 93 percent of offshore wind projects worldwide are in shallow waters (zero to 30 meters deep). Close to half of the United States’ shallow water offshore wind is along the Atlantic coast.

· While the most extensive European study concluded that offshore wind farms do not appear to have long-term or large-scale ecological impacts, major data gaps for the Atlantic Ocean still exist and site-specific impacts need to be evaluated. A coordinated, comprehensive, and well-funded effort is needed to address these gaps and improve the permitting process.

The report can be found at .

"Offshore wind development presents a tremendous job creation opportunity for America, stated Stewart Acuff, Chief of Staff at the Utility Union Workers of America AFL-CIO (UWUA). “In these difficult economic times, offshore wind is perhaps the most promising game in town to grow quality, high-paying jobs here at home. Our members stand ready and willing to take advantage of these new jobs and help lead America in this exciting new direction.”

“By harnessing the vast, untapped wind resources off our coast, all across the Northeast we can create good-paying jobs, reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels, and take a big step toward combating global warming,” said Joe Blass, Field Associate with Environment Connecticut. “If Atlantic states harnessed 54 GW of offshore wind power – that’s just a fraction of the total potential – we could produce as much energy as 52 coal-fired power plants. Generating that much energy from fossil fuels would emit over 97 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, or the equivalent of 17.7 million cars per year.”

The report was released all along the Eastern seaboard today in conjunction with many national and state partners including environmental, sportsmen, labor, and business organizations. These groups call on the federal government to take the following steps:

  • Improve the offshore wind permitting process,
  • Identify ideal, high priority sites with limited resource conflicts off of the Atlantic for quick and thorough permitting,
  • Invest in and speed research of offshore wind technology and environmental impacts,
  • Coordinate planning with existing infrastructure and industries such as ports and fishing.

National and regional cosponsors include: Utility Workers Union of America, Environment America, National Audubon, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Conservation Law Foundation, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

State cosponsors include: Maine: Natural Resources Council of Maine, Environment Maine, Maine Wind Industry Initiative; New Hampshire: Environment New Hampshire; Massachusetts: Mass Audubon, Environment Massachusetts, Environmental League of Massachusetts; Rhode Island: Environment Council of Rhode Island, Environment Rhode Island; Connecticut: Environment Connecticut; New York: Renewable Energy Long Island, Citizen Campaign for the Environment, Environmental Advocates of New York, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Environment New York; New Jersey: New Jersey Audubon, Environment New Jersey; Delaware: Delaware Nature Society, Clean Air Council, League of Women Voters; Maryland: Environment Maryland; Virginia: Virginia Conservation Network, Environment Virginia, Sierra Club-Virginia; North Carolina: North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Environment North Carolina; South Carolina: South Carolina Wildlife Federation; Georgia: Georgia Wildlife Federation, Environment Georgia; and Florida: Florida Wildlife Federation, Environment Florida.

The National Wildlife Federation is America's largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.


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