The War to Build America’s First Offshore Wind Farm

cape wind offshore

Jim Gordon has been pioneering the installation of the United States’ first offshore wind farm to be located off the coast of Cape Cod for over a decade now, and while the proposal is closer now to being started than ever before, Gordon is well aware that the fight is not over yet.

Cape Wind has been getting permits and the go-ahead from governments over the past two months, and the first of 130 wind turbines is soon to be installed, six miles off the coast in Nantucket Sound. But just as this milestone is within reach, the U.S. Congress has decided not to renew tax incentives for the wind power industry.

Opposed over the project’s lengthy history by such luminaries from across party lines as Senator Edward M. Kennedy and petroleum and coal magnate and GOP fundraiser William Koch, Gordon has had a long fight, and he’s expecting it to continue, thanks in large part to Koch’s efforts. So far, he has faced reviews by 17 government agencies, court challenges, and some very public outcry.

Gordon was recently interviewed by Yale Environment 360, where he spoke about his decade-long fight to build the U.S.’s first offshore wind farm, why he thinks renewable energy developers will survive a boom in cheap natural gas, and why Cape Wind’s long struggle will ultimately benefit the clean energy sector.

“It was painful, it was costly, it was frustrating,” Gordon said. “But you know something, if it makes it easier for others after me, I take some pride in that. And I take some hope in that because America needs renewable energy.”

When asked whether the 10-year fight was over, Gordon replied:

I wouldn’t call it a fight, I would call it an epic battle. With every major energy or infrastructure project in New England you’re always going to have some opposition to it. People are resistant to change.

We were announcing a project that would produce over 75 percent of the Cape and islands’ electricity with zero pollutant emissions, zero water consumption and zero waste discharge — and most importantly harnessing an inexhaustible and abundant energy resource that’s ours, that’s not controlled by cartels overseas. We thought people would really be excited about it.

But we were surrounded by the wealthiest, most politically influential people in the United States, and a lot of them still are fighting this project.

For the rest of the interview, where Gordon discusses the ins and outs of Cape Wind, his own motivations, and why he thinks the battle will benefit the wind and renewable industries overall, click on over to Yale’s Enviornment 360.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1aGRo)

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Fish thriving around wind farms

The first Danish study into how one of the worlds largest wind farms affects marine life is now completed. It shows that the wind turbines and the fish live quite happily together. Indeed some species of fish have actually increased in number.

As work is just beginning on Denmark’s newest and so far largest offshore wind farm off the island of Anholt, comes some hopefully good news for all fish in the area. A new report from the Danish wind-park Horns Rev 1, one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, shows that offshore wind farms and fish can live together in harmony.

The 80 huge turbines at Horns Rev 1 are located just off Denmark’s westernmost point and will be celebrating their tenth birthday in just over a year’s time. Like other offshore wind farms, it is located in relatively shallow water, no more than 20 meters deep, and thus in an area which is typically teeming with fish.

Even before the park was built, researchers from DTU Aqua, National Institute of Aquatic Resources in Denmark, sailed out to conduct a survey of fish life in the area. Biologists then compared the data gathered at that time with the situation in the area seven years after the wind turbine blades began to turn.

“Our study showed that the turbines have not adversely affected fish life in the area,” says biologist Claus Stenberg from DTU Aqua.

Several new species

Offshore turbines at Horns Rev are sunk deep into the seabed and surrounded by a rim of large piles of stones, which prevents the sea currents eroding deep trenches in the sand around the turbines. The study suggests that these stone structures also act as artificial reefs, providing enhanced conditions for fish, with an abundant supply of food and shelter from the current, and attracts fish which like a rocky sea bottom. As such, the turbines have created habitats for a number of new species in the area.

“Species such as the goldsinny-wrasse, eelpout and lumpfish which like reef environments have established themselves on the new reefs in the area – the closer we came to each turbine foundation, the more species we found,” says Claus Stenberg.

Fish living at the bottom of the sea thriving

The researchers were keen to see how the fish species that live on the large fine-grained sand banks that the mills were constructed on would be affected – species that include, for example, the sand eel, which is one of the most important fish for the Danish fishing industry.

“The study shows that wind farms have not been a threat nor of particular benefit to the sand eel. The sand eel is dependent on the fine sand, in which it buries, to live, and the mills did not affect either the sand grain size on the bottom nor had any impact on the number of sand eels,” the DTU Aqua biologist concludes.

The study is the first to examine the effects of a Danish wind farm on fish life. However, researchers do not expect that the results will necessarily be replicated in the other 11 wind farms located in Danish waters.

“Horns Rev is situated in an extremely tough environment with strong wave action, which means for example that seaweed forests, together with the small fish that live in them, cannot establish themselves. We would therefore expect the positive reef effects to be even greater still in a park located for example in the more sheltered Kattegat,” says the DTU Aqua scientist.

Since the Horns Rev 1 was built, the area has been closed to all fishing activities. As a result, thepark has become a kind of mini protected area, although it has been too small to have had any significantly positive effects on local fish stocks.

“Our studies suggest that the Horns Rev 1 is too small to function as a true marine protected area (MPA), because over their lifecycles the fish utilize a much greater area than just the wind farm. But presumably several parks located close to one another could have a combined positive effect on spawning and the survival of fish fry, as wind farms which are located downstream of each other can act as a kind of dispersion corridor for eggs and larvae,” says Claus Stenberg.

The study of wind farm Horns Rev 1’s effect on fish life was carried out as a joint project between DTU Aqua, Orbicon, DHI and NaturFocus. The project was led by Orbicon with DTU Aqua responsible for the practical and experimental analyses.

Source: Technical University of Denmark

Denmark Aims for 50% of Electricity from Wind by 2020

Denmark is taking major steps towards a greener future, passing an agreement that the Danish Minister for Climate, Energy and Building, Martin Lidegaard, says is “the broadest, the greenest, and the most long-term energy agreement that has ever been reached in Denmark.”

The agreement establishes a framework for the policy on climate and energy up to 2020 and outlines a direction for the country up until 2050. It was passed by a broad majority in the Danish Parliament led by the government parties and Denmark’s Liberal Party, the Danish People’s Party, the Danish Red-Green Alliance, and the Conservative Party; in total, 171 seats out of 179 in the parliament.

“This is a historic day for Danish energy policy. In our everyday political work, the parties are different shades of red and blue. However, today – together — we have laid down the foundation for a green future,” says Martin Lidegaard.

Middelgrunden windmills outside Copenhagen

The initiatives are as follows;

  • CO2 emissions in 2020 will be reduced by 34% of what they were in 1990.
  • Energy consumption will decrease by more than 12% in 2020 compared to 2006.
  • A total of more than 35% of Danish energy will stem from renewable energy sources.
  • 50% of the country’s electricity consumption will be stem from wind power.
  • The agreement will ensure a stable framework for the business community as a whole, and the energy sector in particular.

“Large changes will be made over the next decade,” says Lidegaard. “However, with this agreement the parties have started a transition that will strengthen the competitiveness of Danish businesses and ensure that citizens will not be subjected to exorbitant price increases on fossil fuels.”

As already reported on CleanTechnica, Denmark recently approved the construction of two large wind farms at Kriegers Flak and Horns Rev.

“Denmark will once again be the global leader in the transition to green energy. This will prepare us for a future with increasing prices for oil and coal. More-over, it will create some of the jobs that we need so desperately, now and in the coming years,” says Lidegaard.

“Investments are necessary if we are to switch society towards green energy. But the bill will be much bigger if we do not act in time. At the same time, the transition will benefit climate mitigation and the environment, and it will ensure the future competitiveness of Danish industry. With this agreement, the parties are sending a clear message that we all assume responsibility and are taking the challenges of the future seriously. It is truly a great day for energy policy in Denmark.”

Source: Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Building
Image Source: Andreas Johannsen

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/18jZf)

NYC to Build Wind and Solar Farm on Old Dump Site

Who would know that an old garbage dump at Staten Island in New York City would house 20 MW of renewable power? If they succeed with their plans, “Fresh Kills landfill” will be transformed into a combined solar and wind farm that could generate enough electricity to power 6,000 average American households!

The old landfill has serviced the city for 53 years, and taken care of a whopping two billion tons of thrash, before closing early in 2011.

Fresh Kills Landfill

Soliciting Bids

NYC says it has 75 acres that are available for lease, and it is currently soliciting bids to see who’s qualified for the job. It will be interesting to see what the bids end at — the main motivator for the companies to be involved is cost-competitive electricity from solar and wind power.

The Future Looks Green

Last week, Deputy Mayor Holloway stated the following about the project:

“New York City needs energy to keep it running, and we want that power to be reliable, clean, and affordable. Renewable energy is the most sustainable kind, and under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership we’re maximizing the use of City assets to develop as much capacity as possible.”

Financial support from the government and states is exactly what we need to push renewable energy forward. This is what has made the solar power industry in Germany triumph, resulting in the country becoming the largest shareholder of the world’s PV solar cells. Even with the recent proposal of cutting subsides as much as 30%, German energy policies could make solar in America a lot more affordable.

We sure hope that NYC’s renewable energy plans go through as dreamed. This would mean a doubling of the city’s renewable power capacity, and could be the catalyst for similar projects in the future.

It sure will be interesting to see how the project develops. In the meantime, feel free to comment below with what you think about NYC’s plans.

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/17YZH)