LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

The web's first ocean and offshore wind energy weblog. Continuously renewed, like the ocean itself.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Wave May Hold More Possibilities Than Wind for UK

Two stories out of British papers suggest that wave development is preferable to wind. The first article from the Guardian by Paul Brown (2/10/03) states that "turbines driven by the tide could make Britain self sufficient without the vagaries of wind." The article also describes the progress of wave energy in Britain and potential commercial opportunities:

Undersea turbines which produce electricity from the tides are set to become an important source of renewable energy for Britain.

Operating on the same principle as wind turbines, the power in sea turbines comes from tidal currents which turn blades similar to ships' propellers, but unlike wind the tides are predictable and the power output is constant.

The technology raises the prospect of Britain becoming self-sufficient in renewable energy and drastically reducing its carbon dioxide emissions. If tide, wind and wave power are all developed Britain would be able to close gas, coal and nuclear plants and export renewable power to the continent.

Unlike wind power, which Britain originally developed and then abandoned for 20 years allowing the Dutch to make it a major industry, undersea turbines could become a big export earner to island nations such as Japan and New Zealand.

Tidal sites have already been identified that will produce one sixth or more of the UK's power - and at prices competitive with modern gas turbines and undercutting those of the already ailing nuclear industry.
And relatedly,
this article out of Countrylife in the UK (February 11, 2003) reports that "The Government should look to the tides rather than the winds to produce the renewable energy of the future and reduce the UK's carbon dioxide emissions, according to scientists. Marine current turbines rely on predictable tidal movements rather than the vagaries of the wind and can access an estimated four times more energy than wind turbines, they said." This approach contrasts with that of the US which is headed on a faster track to develop offshore wind resources rather than wave.

New Jersey company progressing with wave energy installation.

Out of Miami Herald.com (January 11, 2003), an article entitled
Company Turning Waves Into Electricity Under Navy Contract
describes the first steps by Ocean Power Technologies, a New Jersey company, to commercialize its wave technology. According to the article, Ocean Power has completed testing of a prototype and now, "under a $7 million project funded by the Navy, Ocean Power will gradually install a group of power-generating buoys just offshore at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base in Hawaii. The steel buoys, each wired to a metal canister full of delicate electronic equipment, will be connected to each other in sequence, with the electricity they generate transmitted to land via an undersea cable and then hooked into the local power grid." The article goes on to describe some of Ocean Power's future prospects: "the company has some promising alliances with marketing partners and has sold a 5 percent stake to Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia's biggest independent oil and gas explorer and producer. Ocean Power plans next fall to set up a small buoy system that will sell power to the town of Portland, Australia."

Questions About Appropriate Regulatory Scheme for Offshore Wind Resurface

Glenn Ritt has an article on the questions regarding existing uncertainties as to what regulatory agencies and which statutes govern offshore wind development entitled Is It Time for Congress to Act?(Harwich News, 2/11/03). As the article describes, the Corps is currently permitting the Cape Wind Project under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (which directs the Corps to permit any structures located in navigable waters or on the Outer Continental Shelf). However, other offshore projects on the Outer Continental Shelf, such as oil, natural gas and minerals extraction are typically regulated by the Department of Interior through its authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Act. The unresolved issue then, is whether an offshore wind project should be treated more like a "structure" on the Outer Continental Shelf subject to Corps' jurisdiction or like an oil or gas lease which would be subject to regulation by the Department of Interior. Currently, the Corps remains the default agency for offshore wind permitting since its power under Section 10 is broad enough to encompass such projects while the Department of Interior has no authority to regulate renewable development of the Outer Continental Shelf. And that remains the question which Congress must resolve - to leave the permitting of offshore wind (and other renewables) within the Corps' jurisdiction or transfer it to the Department of Interior or some other agency. [Side note - similar uncertainty exists with regard to development of ocean wave energy as discussed in my article, Strategies for Resolving Regulatory Uncertainty in Ocean Energy Development, posted at EnergyPulse.net.]

Another Winergy Proposal in the News Again

Winergy LLC , a New York company which has proposed an offshore windfarm at Eastern Shore's southern tip has suggested that moving the project from federal to state waters would increase tax revenues to the locality as described
in this article
by Jay Diem, entitled "Ocean Wind Farm Could Provide Revenues," Eastern Shore News (2/12/03). A company spokesman explained that if the project remained in state waters, revenues would be shared with a "federal bureau." But as far as I can tell, given that H.R. 5156 which would authorize the Secretary of Interior to grant rights of way for use of the Outer Continental Shelf for offshore renewable development has not yet been enacted. In the absence of this legislation, which "federal bureau" is it that would receive tax revenues?

Delays for Capewind Project

Capewind's Nantucket offshore wind project may be delayed by a year, according to this article
from the Register at Townonline.com (2/13/03). According to the article, the extent of the delay depends on the Corps' ability to identify an alternative to the project site which is required for the environmental impact statement that the Corps is preparing for the project. Also reported in the article: "[earlier in the week], U.S. Rep. William Delahunt called for Nantucket Sound to become a National Marine Sanctuary, and he repeated intentions to seek a moratorium on any development until the state and federal governments consider the sanctuary plan."
Welcome to the LOCE Offshore Wind and Wave Energy Resources Weblog sponsored by the Law Offices of Carolyn Elefant (LOCE) in Washington D.C. These days, there's so much happening in the world of offshore renewable energy development both in the United States (which is the focus of this weblog) and abroad. A weblog, which can be continuously renewed (like the ocean itself!) provides the optimal format for keeping abreast of all the changes. While we'll do what we can to post relevant news, we welcome submissions and updates from readers. For more "static" information (such as links to applicable U.S. statutes, regulations and articles), please visit the
LOCE Ocean Energy Resources Website .