Monday, May 07, 2007

Offshore Wind Energy

An excellent idea, in my opinion. From today's Washington Post:
Delaware Energy Debate Could Turn on the Wind

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. -- Two hundred towering windmills, each so tall that its blades would loom over the U.S. Capitol Dome, could be built in the Atlantic Ocean near one of Washingtonians' favorite beach retreats, under a plan being considered in Delaware.

The plan, which could create the first wind "farm" in waters along the East Coast, envisions a thicket of turbines offshore of either Rehoboth Beach or Bethany Beach, Del. As the blades are spun by ocean winds, designers say, the wind farm could provide enough power every year for 130,000 homes.

The wind farm is one competitor in an unusual kind of power-plant bake-off: Delaware officials are also considering plants that would burn coal or natural gas as they seek ways to generate more electricity. A preliminary decision could be made tomorrow.
I've thought for a while that offshore wind turbines are one excellent solution to the renewable energy problem. Every time I fly in and out of Copenhagen, Denmark (which I do quite a bit since I have family there) I love seeing the offshore wind turbines in the sea near the airport (pictured at right). I find them beautiful aesthetically, but more importantly, beautiful because it's one of the only ways that one can actually watch the generation of pollution-free electricity.

Offshore wind farms have been in the news in the US recently because of the ongoing battle over the creation of such a farm in Nantucket Sound - an idea which is being bitterly resisted by many wealthy homeowners in the area. (See the picture at left for an offshore wind farm near Yarmouth, England.) It seems to be a development that can generate (pun intended) breathtaking levels of personal hypocrisy, with people who otherwise claim to care about the environment fighting the installation of efficient, carbon-emission-free wind turbines. For the most recent development in that particular saga, see this story.

That's a pity. Because really, the creation of a wind farm needs to be considered in the context of what would be built if the wind farm is not built. That's why I like the approach being taken by Delaware so much. It establishes right up front that if a wind farm is not going to be built, then a hydrocarbon-using power plant will be built. It's good that everyone be reminded of that fact.

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