LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

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

Friday, August 08, 2003

No Surprise Here - Senator Kennedy Comes Out Against Cape Wind

Though as reported here, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts has flip-flopped a little on how vigorously to oppose Cape Wind, a recent speech leaves no doubts about his position as reported in Kennedy Voices Displeasure Over Cape Wind's Proposal, Jay Fitzgerald, Boston Herald, (8/8/03). As the article reports

U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy yesterday openly confirmed one of the state's worst-kept secrets: He opposes a controversial plan to build 130 400-foot-tall power generators on Nantucket Sound's Horseshoe Shoal. The Hyannis Democrat, who has knocked the wind-turbine plan and the lack of local, state and federal rules to govern it, felt it was time to state his views more clearly and comprehensively, a spokeswoman said yesterday. In a statement yesterday praising the ``incomparable Nantucket Sound'' and noting his family ties to Cape Cod, Kennedy sharply criticized the project proposed by Cape Wind Associates. We must do all we can to see that this first-of-its-kind project receives enough state and federal scrutiny to justify its going forward. So far, in spite of all the loud rhetoric on the issue, Cape Wind hasn't met that test, and I doubt they ever will. Until they do, the project should not go forward. Far more is at stake in the decision than our backyards, and I make no apologies for opposing this project now,'' Kennedy concluded.

Cape Wind officials remain optimistic, however, that after the extensive environmental studies now ongoing that Kennedy "will come to realize that the public's interests'' are protected. That is, of course, assuming that the opposition is about the project's impacts and not the view from Hyannisport.

Rich and Famous Oppose Cape Wind

The roster of "rich and famous" who oppose Cape Wind include historian David McCullough, newsman Walter Cronkite and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as reported in Cape's Rich and Famous Fight Proposed Wind Farm, Boston Channel (8/5/03). As for state officials, Gov. Mitt Romney is against the project, while his neighbor to the south, Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri, is for it, with his state's economic development officials touting its job-creation potential.

Wind Expert Questions Offshore Wind

Noted wind expert Robert Thresher of the National Wind Technology Center has some questions about the still unproven durability of offshore wind plants, as reported in
Wind Power Expert: Offshore Turbines Riskier Than Onshore
, Doreen Leggett (Townonline.com), 8/7/03. According to Thresher, most studies of wind generation turbines have been on land and do not necessarily show how projects will fare offshore:

"With offshore, it's still really risky," [Thresher] said. And that risk is compounded because it costs 30 percent to 50 percent more to construct turbines offshore than on land.Offshore turbines have been constructed in Europe, especially Denmark, and there is ever-increasing data and modeling on how well they stand up to ocean weather and tides, Thresher explained. "But what about the big blow?" he asked. "The poor wind turbine is out there. Extreme events (we) can't model too much. How big a wave do you have to design to?"

Still, siting all wind farms on land is no solution - because in places like North Dakota, where the wind resources are ample, there's a lack of tranmission lines to get power to load centers. Thresher estimates it would take 20 to 30 years to construct a grid system to meet the 33 percent goal. By contast, offshore projects are sited near the coasts, where most people live. For that reason, Thresher remains interested in the offshore option, pointing to a European Union study that identified waters off China and the United States as most suited to wind farms.

The "Green" In "Green Power"

Renewable energy is green in more ways than one, according to this report,
Reports See Major Growth in Store for Renewable Energy
(8/8/03). According to the article, undeterred by a lagging world economy, the use of renewable energy has experienced an unprecedented surge in growth over the past few years - generating, for example, $7 billion worth of wind tubine sales in 2002 and 100,000 jobs. Falling costs and new government policies account for the dramatic growth in development and use of renewable energy.
According to Worldwatch president Christopher Flavin. “A decade from now, renewable energy is likely to be an accepted part of the mainstream energy business -- and in a position to dominate the market for new electricity generators. So it looks like green power is finally making some "green."

In UK, New Offshore Wind Turbines That Won't Interfere With Radar

In Off the Radar , The Engineer, (8/8/03), there's a report on a recent announcement by UK Trade secretary Patricia Hewittfor a new round of offshore wind turbines to be built, capable of producing up to 6GW of energy, in the Thames Estuary, Greater Wash and the North West. The new turbines will be designed in such a way that they will not interfere with aircraft and weather radar - a problem which has lead to objections to wind farms from radar operators. r

Australia Gives Wind and Offshore Wind Some Thought

There's some progress being made towards increasing the supply of alternative energy in Australia and moving away from cheap but dirty fossil fuels, as reported here in A Mighty Wind (8/8/03). The article describes:

Australia is the highest per capita emitter of the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming, largely because of a love affair with cheap and plentiful fossil fuels such as coal. While billions of dollars in government funding are ploughed into cleaning up coal and looking for solutions to its emissions problem, environment groups argue money should also be put into developing an alternative energy industry that will, one day, be able to make a more significant contribution to energy supplies.

Consequently, Australia is looking to the lead taken by Europe with its substantial increase in wind energy, including offshore wind farms which "capture strong streamlined breezes that race over the sea." In particular, environment groups say something similar should occur in Australia and are campaigning for the Federal Government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, now under review, to be raised from 2 to 10 per cent by 2010.

Get Your Wind and Ocean Wave Data Here

If information drives progress, then we ought to expect an increase in offshore wind and wave projects in British Columbia, now that BC Hydro is making data on wind and ocean wave energy that it collected through its monitoring program available to interested parties as described in Data Backs Wind and Ocean Wave Energy , Solar Access (8/5/03). BC Hydro's Vice President is more than willing to share the information

"BC Hydro has accumulated valuable data at a number of locations in British Columbia that we are eager to share with interested parties," said BC Hydro's Senior Vice-President, Distribution, Bev Van Ruyven. "This will further enable private sector wind and wave energy development in B.C. and help these projects compete in our future commercial calls for new electricity supply."

It seems unusual for a utility to actually want to give information away - perhaps there is a hope that by making the data available, developers can use it to develop offshore wind and wave projects and sell power to BC Hydro to enable it to diversity its portfolio.

Renewable Park in India

In more news from India (see post below on OTEC), the city-based Gujarat Energy Development Agency (Geda) will collaborate with the Science City administration to set up a Rs 1.5-crore Energy Park at Gandhinagar according to this article, Geda to Help Set Up Energy Park , India business (8/5/03).
The park will display the alternative sources of energy, like solar and wind energy and even various forms of ocean energy to create more awareness about their use. Everything from solar energy -- street lights to windmills and a biogas plant will be set up to show visitors how they work. There will also be miniature working models of the Sardar Sarovar Project, a tidal power generator, wave power generator and an ocean thermal energy converter.

OTEC Plant to Be Developed in India

Though back in the energy crisis of the 1970's, there were high hopes for commercialization of OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion) in the United States, no one has ever even filed an application to license an OTEC plant. But in India, there's news of an OTEC development in this piece, Ocean thermal Energy Plant Coming Up Soon , The Hindu (8/6/03). The blurb quotes Minister of State for Non-conventional Energy Resources M Kannappan as saying that a one mw floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion power plant is in the final stages of commissioning near Tuticorin port.

AquaEnergy Wave Energy Project Floats Forward

This article, West End: Meetings Set for wave energy project, Brian Gawley, Peninsula Daily (8/5/03) reports that two public meetings will be held to report on the status of the permitting process of AquaEnergy Group's proposed ocean wave energy project off the Olympic Peninsula coast of the Makah Indian Reservation are planned later this month. As the article describes, Mercer Island-based AquaEnergy Group Ltd. hopes to generate electricity from ocean waves and transmit it to Clallam County Public Utility District No. 1's power grid.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Ocean Project Set for Hawaii Tests

This article, Wave Generated Electricity Tests Set , Bruce Dunford, Star Bulletin (8/4/03) gives an update on the status of Ocean Power Technologies pilot ocean energy project at a Marine Corps base in Hawaii. As the article describes:
Ocean Power Technologies holds a $9.5 million contract from the Office of Naval Research to test if the bobbing of subsurface buoys tethered to the ocean floor can efficiently generate electricity for Marine Corps Base Hawaii-Kaneohe. The pilot project's first phase calls for one of the company's trademarked PowerBuoys to be given a buoyancy to ride nine to 12 feet below the surface in 100 feet of water nearly a mile off the Kaneohe base's Hilltop housing area. As the swell passes, the 40-foot-long, 15-foot-diameter, vertically positioned PowerBuoy moves up and down on a rigid pole anchored to the bottom. The up-and-down movement mechanically creates a flow of hydraulic fluid to drive an electrical generator housed in a canister on the ocean floor, said Don Rochon, spokesman for the Pacific Division of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, which is overseeing the project.

The Ocean Technologies project is one of just a few wave energy projects to reach the pilot stage in the United States, the other being the
AquaEnergy Group's proposed Makah Bay project off the coast of Washington state.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

If They Say It's Not All About NIMBY, It Really Is

We don't need to add much commentary to Sam Allis' column Hypocrisy Blows In, Boston Globe (8/3/03):

When former Senator Dale Bumpers began his defense of Bill Clinton in the former president's impeachment trial, he quoted H. L. Mencken: ''When you hear somebody say, this is not about the money - it's about the money.'' And, ''When you hear somebody say, this is not about sex - it's about sex.''

In the same vein, when you hear opponents of the proposed wind turbine project in Nantucket Sound say this is not about Not In My Backyard, it's about Not In My Backyard.

What this wind farm proposal does, quite simply, is to call the bluff of every alleged environmentalist on the Cape and Islands who was weaned to believe that clean, renewable energy is better than sex: Will they think globally and act locally on this one?

Apparently not.

Check out the column to see what else Allis has to say about the Cape Wind project and its critics.

Yet Another Anomaly in Regulation of Wind on Federal Lands

It's getting tough to keep straight whether Congress wants increased regulation of wind farms on federal lands or not. As we noted here just a couple of days ago, various proposals have been floating around which would give state and local governments more control - possibly even veto power - over wind farms sited on federal lands - presumably either on the Outer Continental Shelf (think Cape Wind) or lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management or other federal agencies. But the new Senate Energy Bill passed on Thursday, would allow for decreased environmental review of projects sited on Indian lands (which are also federal lands or reservations managed by the Department of Interior as reported in this piece from the Great Falls Tribune (8/3/03). According to the article:

Legislation that would allow tribes to essentially get pre-approval from the Interior secretary for any future energy projects on tribal lands is expected to make its way into the Senate-House energy bill this fall. Power plants, wind farms, oil and gas wells, refineries, coal and uranium mines and rights-of-way for electric and gas lines all could be developed on Indian lands without the rigorous environmental studies and public participation now required by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

So if a wind farm is built on a federal land that happens to be an Indian reservation (and as the article notes, the Blackfeet Tribe is planning a wind energy project), then development can proceed with a pre-approval from the Secretary of Interior without even the restrictions of NEPA. But if the wind farm will be sited on federal lands managed by BLM or worse - on the Outer Continental Shelf, in addition to facing NEPA compliance, the plants will also be subject to an added layer of state and local review. If there's anyone out there who regards this as a sensible national energy strategy for promoting renewable development, please email us at loce@his.com, because we consider ourselves experts and we can't make any sense of this.

Pacific Islands Consider Renewables, But Not Necessarily Offshore

This article, Renewable Energy Tops Pacific Island Power Talks,Scott Radway, Guampdn.com, (August 3, 2003) reports on recent Pacific Island power talks where participants expressed interest in moving away from fossil fuel towards renewable sources. The article describes that presently, fossil fuels are cheaper but increasing shipping costs may make renewables a less expensive alternative in the long run since a large part of these small countries' revenues (in some cases, 46 percent) is devoted to imported fossil fuels.

At the same time, those quoted in the article expressed reluctance about development of new technologies:

projects must be considered carefully and advised against having island countries becoming the guinea pigs for new technology that most times fails and leaves islands with little incentive to try again. Islands should employ the established technologies such as solar-, wind- and hydro-power, and slowly phase out fossil fuels, [Roper] said.

So although offshore wave and wind might offer possibilities given that islands are surrounded by waters, it appears that there may be a preference to wait while these newer offshore technologies become more established.