LOCE Wind and Wave Energy Weblog

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

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Cape May Have One Less Wind Farm To Worry About As Winergy Misses Deadline

Perhaps Massachusetts will have one less offshore wind farm to worry about, since according to this article, Winergy Tower Bid Tabled After Missed Deadline ,
John Leaning, Cape Cod Times (10/4/03), Winergy failed to provide additional information requested by the Corps of Engineers for its application for a wind tower permit. As a result, the file has been "administratively closed" - though it could be reactivated once Winergy provides the requested materials.

Tidal Power for Alaska?

Will tidal power be coming to Alaska? It's certainly possible as this article, Tidal Energy Generators Could Work In Alaska Spectrum (9/30/03) reports - tidal technology is becoming increasingly viable and the southern coast of Alaska has tidal ranges suitable for tidal power generation. As the article reports, a company called Tidal Electric of Alaska believes it could site generators on the southern coast, conveniently located near the majority of Alaska's population which lives near this coasline or is connected by distribution grid to coastal sites.

On the Edge of Wave Technology

The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is ready to serve as a testing ground for the world's latest wave energy devices and provide an independent analysis of their viability as reported in
Orkney on the Crest of Energy Wave, John Bowker, the Scotsman (10/2/03). The Center has the capacity to conduct four separate tests at any one time and aims to generate L500,000 a year. The Center will use the exposed Pentland Firth as a testing ground for the world’s latest wave energy devices.

The first company to use the facility will be Edinburgh-based firm Ocean Power Delivery, which is putting the finishing touches to a prototype primed for use on the UK’s first offshore wave farms. The firm’s business development director, Max Carcas, said: "EMEC has eased the development of our technology considerably - without it we would have had to apply for a high-risk capital grant. Now we can concentrate on the technology."

Everything You Wanted to Know About Oscillating Water Columns

This article by physicist Paul Singh in the India Tribune (Oct. 2, 2003) gives a fairly detailed overview of the "ocscillating water column" devices used in many wave energy conversion systems, including diagrams of how the technology works. The article also compares ocean systems to fossil fuel and highlights the many benefits of wave energy conversion systems.

Renewable Standard May Be Written Out of Energy Bill

Tenewable advocates who'd hoped that the pending federal energy legislation might include a renewable portolio standard (a policy that requires utilities to supply a certain percentage of power from renewable sources), may be disappointed, because thus far, Republicans drafting the energy bill have decided not to include these provisions - which were originally in the Senate version. Details on the fate of a federal RPS and the energy legislation is discussed further here in Renewable Energy Provision Stalls , Dan Morgan, Peter Behr, Washington Post (9/30/03).

RPEBW To Speed Construction of Offshore Wind Turbines and Cut Costs

Ever hear of a technique known as "Reduced Pressure Electron Beam Welding" (RPEBW)? I hadn't either until I came across this piece,
TWI Technology Promises to Accelerate Production Time and Halve Costings
, Business Weekly - UK (9/30/03).
According to the article, RPEBW (which is described in more detail in the article) could be used in the construction of offshore wind turbine towers and is expected to speed up production by as much as ten times and cut production costs by half. The company that developed the technology is confident that it can be putinto commercial use within two years - which will perhaps enable offshore wind farms to be more profitable with reduced reliance on subsidies or incentives.

Tides Turn Against Wind in Germany

Here's an interesting piece from the BBC reporting that
Germany Begins to Turn Against Wind
(9/29/03) . Seems that wind is starting to fall out of favor with Germany, the world's biggest producer of wind power. According to the report, Germany's economic minister has suggested reducing various incentives provided to wind to avoid a "subsidy mentality" while environmentalists have attacked plans for Germany's first offshore wind farm to be located in the North Sea, citing adverse impacts such as noise and dangers to birds. Still, Germany has committed to shutting its nuclear facilities and the power's got to be replaced somehow - so if not wind, then what source?

US Ocean Company Looks for Site in Scotland

This article, Tide Turns As US Wave Power Firm Seeks Site (9/27/03) reports on discussions betweeen New Jersey based company, Ocean Power Technologies and Scottish Development International about setting up an operation in Scotland. Several Scottish companies, including Inverness-based Wavegen and Ocean Power Delivery of Edinburgh, are developing wave-power systems, and a test centre backed by £2m of government funding recently opened off Orkney. The addition of a demo project by OPT would solidify Scotland's position as a leader in ocean based technologies.

Cross Sound Cable Project - An Ocean T-Line Sets Up Turf War Between Feds and States

As a transmission project, the Cross Sound Cable is a different type of ocean energy project than the generation projects typically covered by this blog. The cable is a transmission project - running from Connecticut to Long Island lies in state waters appurtenant to Connecticut and New York.

Of course, the Cross Sound Cable isn't making news merely because it's an underwater transmission line. As this article
Cross Sound Cable Debate Sets Off Federal Power Grab
(9/28/03) describes, the project has set off a turf war between the state of Connecticut and the feds. Although the cable has been completed, Connecticut regulators refused to allow it to operate because about 700 feet of it was not buried to the required depth. Notwithstanding this injunction, in the aftermath of the August 2003 blackout, DOE Secretary Abraham, declared an energy emergency and ordered the transmission line to be activated. And the tranmission line has been operating since then, though Connecticut regulators have sought rehearing of the Secretary's orders.

It's possible that these same federal and state conflicts may replay in the offshore permitting arena as well. What happens, for example, if the Corps successfully permits an offshore project on the OCS but the neighboring state refuses to permit the transmission lines that run to shore to be activated because of issues such as failure to bury the line the appropriate length? Or what if the state refuses to lease lands for the transmission lines notwithstanding that an applicant obtains a permit from the Corps to construct the project. This isn't so much an issue for tidal and wave projects where the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has asserted jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act which allows developers to condemn lands needed to construct a project. But offshore wind developers do not have that ability under the Corps' Section 10 permit program. So as if offshore renewable developers didn't have enough on their plates with opposition from NIMBY groups and environmental groups, they may also find themselves squarely stuck in the middle of a turf war between the feds and the state.

Maine Faces Debate Over Wind As Projects Are Proposed

Maine may not be facing offshore wind farms like its southern neighbor, Massachusetts, but that doesn't mean that the debate over two proposed land based wind projects won't be any less contentious as reported in Debate Over Wind Turbines Heats Up , Meredith Goad, Maine Press Herald, (9/28/03). According to the article, this fall, two wind farms, one proposed for Western Maine and the other for Northern Maine will be submitted to the state for environmental review. Goad's article gives an overview of the arguments, pro and con, regarding the proposed windfarms.

Town Seeks Wind Turbines at Wastewater Plants, Post Haste!

This article, Town Wants Fast Answers on Wind Turbines at Wastewater Plants , Edward Maroney, Barnstable Patriot (9/26/03) reports that the Town of Hyannis wants to set up one to thre wind turbines at its water pollution control facility ASAP. The town has put up $1.85 million for the study, design and construction of the generators, which it hopes could power the wastewater plant and a nearby DPW facility. Peter Doyle, supervisor of the WPC plant, said its average monthly electric bill is about $20,000. Many companies have expressed interest in the project, from the highly local (Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Stearns and Wheeler of Hyannis) to the far-distant (Oak Creek Energy Systems of Mojave, Calif.). Community Wind's Brian Braginton-Smith of Yarmouth, originally part of the Cape Wind effort, has expressed interest as well.

Small Company Wins Grant for Waste to Hydrogen Project

As reported in Innovative Company Wins Grant for Energy Concept , Berkshire Eagle (September 28 2003), New Energy Solutions Inc.
recently won a $204,603 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to advance the company's concept system of converting animal waste to hydrogen, which is of use to a variety of industries. Of interest to readers of this weblog, the article describes that New Energy Systems is also developing fuel cell and wave energy technologies.

US Ocean Project Faces Some Questions from Environmental Group

This article, Neah Bay: National Group Urges Study of Energy Project (9/25/03) reports that a national environmental group, the Surfrider Foundation, wants a more thorough analysis of potential effects from the ocean wave energy project proposed off the coast here. The group has said it does not want to hold up the project - but just to ensure that a thorough environmental assessment or EIS is prepared, particularly given the project's proposed location in a marine sanctuary. The project is currently undergoing licensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission .

Energy Bill to Resolve Regulatory Gaps on OCS

As we discussed here, the federal district court in Massachusetts may have affirmed the Corps' authority to issue a Section 10 permit for offshore wind projects on the Outer Continental Shelf - but the decision does not clarify whether at some point in time, a developer must obtain firm property rights in order to construct the project under the permit - or to project itself against competing usage. One potential solution has been proposed as part of the pending federal energy bill as reported by John Leaning in
Wind Farm's Regulatory Gap Filled , Cape Cod Times, (9/25/03). The article reports that the proposed legislation would give the Interior Department authority to require leases and arrange fees for renewable energy and other projects on the Outer Continental Shelf.

According to the article, the legislation is controversial for several reasons. Some observers believe that the bill could open the door to oil and gas interests that want other projects in the same area, and give an agency with close ties to the petroleum industry unrestricted authority. Others express concern over ceding permitting authority to the Department of Interior which lacks significant experience in ocean management. Nevertheless, at some point, the issue of rights to build on the OCS needs definitive resolution if more offshore wind projects are to be developed in the future.