Offshore wind turbines in the U.K.
At my request, my colleague (and local Cape Wind expert) Sean Corcoran has put together a side-by-side comparison of two proposed offshore wind projects in our proverbial backyard: Cape Wind (slated to be first offshore wind farm in the U.S.) and the Deepwater Wind Energy Center (which would be the largest offshore wind farm in the U.S.). I’ve taken the liberty of turning it into a table:
||Cape Wind (MA)
||Deepwater Wind Energy Center(RI)
||Energy Management Inc.
||Deepwater Wind, LLC
||Nantucket Sound, about 5.2 miles away from the mainland.
||Rhode Island Sound, about 18 miles away from mainland
||24 square miles
||270 square miles
|Number of turbines
||170-turbine proposal reduced by developer to 130-turbines
||100-turbine proposal increased to a 200-turbine proposal
||Connects to the New England grid, coming ashore on Cape Cod
||Connects to both the New England and the New York grids, coming shore on Rhode Island and Long Island
||Rise about 440 feet above the water
||Rise about 525 feet above the water
|Distance between turbines
||Parallel rows about .54 miles apart, with turbines in a row .34 nautical miles apart
||Approximately .8 mile
||Rated to produce 468 megawatts. According to Cape Wind, average expected production will be almost 75% of Cape and Islands usage.
||Rated to produce 1,000 megawatts. According to the New York Times, one megawatt is enough to run a Super Walmart.
|Price of energy
||18.7 cents per kilowatt hour for the first year, increasing 3.5% each year over 15 year contract
||Estimated by developer to be in the “mid-teens” per kilowatt hour
||Cape Wind is not saying how much the project will cost, but government estimates fall around $2.5 billion
||Estimated at $4.5-$5 billion
||Project and lease in Nantucket Sound approved by the Department of the Interior; Power purchase agreement approved by state
||Application for lease filed with the Department of the Interior
The only thing I would add to this extensive comparison is an emerging parallel in opposition to the projects coming from fishermen who fear that insurance companies will bar them from fishing within the leased areas – both major fishing grounds.
More analysis of yesterday’s Cape Wind lease signing has materialized today. Sean Corcoran puts the event into perspective on his Cape Wind blog, saying it was “fully expected given that the Department of Interior approved the project in April.”
Also fully expected were statements of continued opposition from Jeff Perry (Republican candidate for the Cape and Islands’ Congressional seat) and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. From the Cape Cod Times:
“The lease was expected, however, it does not give Cape Wind the authority to build,” said Audra Parker, president and chief executive officer of the anti-Cape Wind group, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. “They have no authority to build their project at this point.”
So what else do they need? Corcoran lays out the hurdles Cape Wind still faces before it can begin construction: Continue reading
“This is the beginning of a new era for our Nation in offshore energy production. Responsibly developing this clean, renewable, domestic resource will stimulate investment in cutting-edge technology, create good, solid jobs for American workers, and promote our nation’s competitiveness, security, and prosperity.”
- Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar
US Department of Interior
Secretary of the Interior Department, Ken Salazar, speaking at the American Wind Energy Association meeting in Atlantic City this morning.
After almost ten years of controversy, Cape Wind Associates, LLC has been granted the first federal lease for offshore wind power generation. The lease covers 25 square miles in Nantucket Sound and will be in effect for 28 years. In return, Cape Wind will pay the government an annual fee of $88,278 plus an operating fee of 2-7% of revenues. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced the lease at a wind energy conference in Atlantic City this morning. So far, no official response from Cape Wind or their perrenial opponents, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. News coverage so far has also lacked commentary or analysis. Cape Cod Today has a bare-bones summary of the relevant specs. After harping on the expected cost of Cape Wind’s electricity, the Boston Herald produced a blandly neutral piece. The Boston Globe did raise one interesting question, saying it’s still not clear “how the lease payment was arrived at – or how it compares to offshore oil and gas leases.” Still waiting for fellow WCAI-er Sean Corcoran to weigh in on this development on his Cape Wind Blog.
Today is primary day, and there’s a lot of chatter out there about the role of climate change (the political issue, not the actual happening) in mid-term elections that the media is saying could bring a Republican tidal wave to Washington. The basic message is that Republicans are riding a wave of increasing doubt about climate change (particularly among political conservatives) and embracing climate denialism, possibly as yet another way to work the anti-establishment outsider angle.
Map of Massachusetts' 10th Congressional District (green).
Massachusetts is no exception. In fact, the whole anti-establishment outsider strategy has been coined the ‘Scott Brown effect’ after the Republican who took over Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat earlier this year by shifting to a more conservative platform and running against the former Kennedy’s key agenda items. And issues of climate change and renewable energy dominated the first major gubernatorial debate. Treasurer and auditor are the only statewide races on the ballots today, but primaries in the race for the 10th Congressional District (South Shore, Cape and Islands) seat in the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to be hotly contested.
On environmental issues, the major distinction here is Keating-O’Leary-Republicans. Bill Keating (D) is the only candidate to support the Cape Wind offshore energy project, and touts this fact as an indication of his commitment to alternative energy and a green economy. Rob O’Leary (D) has opposed Cape Wind, but supports cap-and-trade and also promotes green energy creation. Both say they recognize the daily impacts and future threats of climate change. Differences between the Republican candidates are subtle. All four oppose Cape Wind, oppose cap-and-trade, and promote “common-sense conservation” and the “responsible” development of alternative energy.
Of course, climate change isn’t the only issue. For more information, check out this Q&A from Wicked Local, and election coverage from WCAI and CapeCodOnline. As I said, these races are expected to be tight. Check in tomorrow for results.
Plymouth rock, where legend says the Pilgrims first set foot.
This morning, I drove from Water Street, Woods Hole to Water Street, Plymouth for a press conference announcing the release of a new report from Environment Massachusetts which summarizes some of the extreme weather events of 2010 – from the blizzard that paralized the east coast in January, to spring flooding, and this summer’s heat wave – and reviews the science linking such weather to climate change. The press conference was a complete bust, but I did have a nice conversation with Energy Associate Emily Fischer. The bottom line, she says, is that this year is giving Massachusetts residents a taste of what may be in store if greenhouse gas emissions go unchecked.
It is important to note that we cannot say whether a specific extreme weather event was caused by global warming. Rather, we are saying that every weather event arises from a combination of short-term weather patterns and long-term climatic trends, and global warming “loads the dice” for severe weather.
Letting polluters off the hook after the weather we’ve seen in 2010 would be like giving a thief the key to your house after he just stole your car. The threat of increased extreme weather from global warming is just one of many reasons why we need to hold polluters accountable for their pollution.
Fischer said she thought that Plymouth Rock – where legend says Pilgrims first set foot in this country – was the perfect place to talk about moving our country into a clean energy future. In her mind, that means saying ‘yes’ to Cape Wind and ‘no’ to the Pilgrim nuclear power plant (which is in the fifth year of its license renewal).
The first major debate in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race was dominated by climate change and renewable energy, according to a report from the Cape Cod Times. The field included Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick and Republican Charles Baker, as well as Democrat-turned-independent Timothy Cahill and Jill Stein of the Green-Rainbow Party. The four expressed a range of views on Cape Wind, Plymouth’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, and natural gas. But more than their differing opinions on any particular power generation scheme, what I found telling was what they agreed on:
The candidates all quickly answered yes when asked whether they believe climate change is occurring. But their answers varied on whether it has been caused by humans.
Cahill and Baker said climate change is only partially the fault of humans. Patrick said most climate change was caused by humans and Stein said virtually all climate change has been human induced.
Patrick’s and Stein’s views align best with scientific consensus at this point, but Cahill’s and Baker’s stances are surprisingly subtle in distinction. Baker has been courting conservatives, and Cahill just switched parties last year and needs to distance himself from the incumbent with whom he (until recently) shared a party. In years past, those are the sorts of candidates one might expect to decry the myth of global warming. It’s a sign of the times that they don’t.