Wind Energy from Over the Horizon

If you believe that Long Island could have  emissions free, utility scale electricity sold to LIPA by a large offshore wind farm not visible from land, then you will be happy to read on about a company that is taking wind power extremely seriously and making it economically sensible.

Deepwater Wind, a company with heavy investment and a commitment to bringing large scale wind farms to New England, is rapidly garnering support for a 200-wind turbine project that would bring power to Long Island.

The company’s project proposal is a response to a request for proposals issued in August 2010 by the Long Island Power Authority. Back then, LIPA was asking for a firm to provide additional electric capacity, energy and ancillary services to our area. Deepwater responded with a proposal that would do just that.

Deepwater Wind recently released data showing that its planned Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC), a 900 megawatt offshore wind farm planned 30 miles east of Montauk and 20 miles south of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island mainland, would reach maximum output on the hottest days of summer in the Northeast, just when electric grids need it.

Deepwater Wind has proposed to sell power from DWEC to the Long Island Power Authority via a new transmission system that connects, for the first time, Long Island and southeastern New England. They also intend to market power from DWEC to Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Based in Rhode Island, the company is already working on five wind turbines off the coast of Block Island that will pretty much provide all of the electricity the island needs. This wind farm is already approved and awaiting construction.

 

The Block Island Wind Farm is a 30-megawatt (nameplate) demonstration-scale offshore wind farm approximately three miles southeast of Block Island consisting of five turbines. The wind farm is located entirely in Rhode Island state waters. The wind farm will generate over 100,000 megawatt hours annually, supplying the majority of Block Island’s electricity needs. Excess power will be exported to the mainland via the bi-directional Block Island Transmission System. Construction begins in 2013.

Should the large scale, 200-turbine farm now proposed be completed, it would create enough energy to power 350,000 homes a year.

There is serious need for renewable energy on Long Island. During the first heat wave of the season, in late June, temperatures and the electric demand surged. For example, on June 21, a new high for the date was set on Long Island as the temperature peaked at 95 degrees in the late afternoon while electrical demand followed that temperature rise. Likewise, demand for electricity in New England has also soared during the heat wave.

“One of the great benefits of offshore wind power is that its output surges during those hot afternoons in the dog days of summer,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Bill Moore. “This is because of the well-known ‘sea breeze’ effect. When temperatures rise on shore and heat the air, that hot air rises. The resulting drop in air pressure on shore causes cooler air from the ocean to accelerate toward the coast. Those cooler ocean breezes also produce steady wind that powers our offshore wind turbines.”

“This is one more reason that offshore wind is the best new energy resource option for New England and Long Island. Both areas are close to one of the best offshore wind sites in America, and we can deliver that clean, renewable energy exactly when we need it—on hot summer days and all year long.”

It also looks like even the Feds are supporting Deepwater Wind. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that they will advance the federal approval process for a utility-scale offshore wind project off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Of course, there are people that are against the idea, stating that building wind farms will affect birds or fishing patterns and that supporting a wind farm would do more harm than good.

The Deepwater Wind team is funded by sophisticated energy investors who together manage or own more than $20 billion in assets.

While there are some concerns about the environmental impact of a wind farm in the waters off of Long Island, in this writer’s opinion, the benefits to the environment greatly outweigh the impacts. Personally, I hope it happens.

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