From: S.E. Smith, Care2, More from this Affiliate
Published July 29, 2015 03:33 PM

Offshore Wind Power Comes to the US

The United States marked an energy milestone this week as construction began on a pilot offshore wind program that will be used to test the economic feasibility of offshore wind energy. According to the Bureau of Energy, some four million megawatts of power lie in wait off the coasts and the shores of regions like the Great Lakes, where wind blusters far stronger than it does on land — and even a few miles an hour makes a big difference with turbines. While it’s unlikely all of that territory will be developed, generating more wind energy will help reduce reliance on coal, helping the United States move towards a clean energy future and more energy independence.

Development of wind energy in general, but especially offshore energy, has lagged in the United States. One reason is the sheer cost, as pilot programs are expensive to run and any new technology can be pricey — though nations like Denmark have already illustrated that it’s possible to make wind energy commercially viable. In 2014, 2,488 offshore turbines in 11 farms in Europe generated 8,045 megawatts of energy — enough to meet seven percent of the EU’s energy demand and counting. The Block Island project is suffering from high costs related to poor infrastructure — like a lack of specialized ships equipped for smooth installation of turbines at sea — though the government indicates that it will be providing tax credits and other financial incentives to other pioneering energy companies.

Another issue is regulatory barriers, but, more critically, oppositions from individuals and communities. Many people dislike the thought of seeing energy infrastructure offshore, though wind farms can be as far as three miles out, rather than directly on the horizon. While some may support the idea of offshore wind farms in theory, they don’t want to see it in their backyards — a refrain that may sound familiar. Even in Rhode Island, where the Block Island project is based, not all residents are fans of the program, and this will continue to be an issue across the United States, where some communities have entrenched attitudes about view obstruction. 

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2. 

Offshore wind turnbine farm image via Shutterstock.

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