Offshore Wind Farms - Wave of the Future in Wind Energy?
After a nine year battle, the Nantucket Sound offshore wind farm was finally approved in April, 2010. Cape Wind will be the nation's first offshore wind farm supplying clean power to homes and businesses in Massachusetts. The location of the wind farm created heated debates with residents of Cape Cod and the federal agencies. After Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visted the area at the beginning of 2010, he approved the 130 wind turbine project and issued the necessary permits to begin construction. It should be noted, major opponents of the farm were the late Senator Ted Kennedy, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and billionaire energy giant William Koch.
Offshore wind farms are a common sight in Europe but not in the United States. Cape Wind will be the country's first, finally sending a signal to the world that America is ready and willing to fight global warming and reduce its dependence on foreign oil.
Benefits of Cape Farm
The Cape Farm offshore wind farm could bring hundreds of jobs and provide up to 75 percent of the power needed by the Cape and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Cape Wind has said the project will not necessarily bring cheaper energy, but it will bring cleaner enegy to the region.
Why Put Wind Turbines Offshore
Wind turbines can be sited offshore, where the wind blows harder and larger turbines can be installed. Offshore, wind speeds tend to be higher and the wind is steadier, thus, capturing more wind energy. The area located off of Cape Cod was desirable due to the fact the water is shallow. Turbine foundation costs increase reapidly with increasing water depth and wave height. Also, the further offshore the turbines are located, the higher the cost of connecting with utility power lines.
Cape Farm Specifics
The Cape Farm wind farm will consist of 130 turbines, spaced a third- to a half-mile apart. It will cover about 25 of the 500 square miles of Nantucket Sound. The turbines will stand more than 40 stories tall, well over 10 times larger than nearly every other structure around the Cape. Estimates of the project have ranged from $800 million to $1 billion. Cape Wind has not formally releases how much it believes the wind farm will cost.
Even as debate over the Cape Wind project continues, it is a step in the right direction for America in its quest for renewable energy. Some battles may be long and hard, but the end results will be well worth the effort. America needs to work together to implement cleaner energy sources and lessen its dependence on foreign oil and coal burning. Get involved and support local grass roots efforts to further the development and usage of renewable energy sources.