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USA Deploys Offshore Wind Farms Decades After Europe

Currently there are no offshore wind farms operating in the USA. However, three areas have just recently been selected as wind farm test sites (Virginia, Oregon and New Jersey), by the US federal government and have each received $47 million to deploy grid-connected systems in federal and state waters by 2017.

USA Offshore windfarms

USA finally deploys Offshore windfarms

Fishermen’s Energy will install a 25 MW system (five 5MW direct-drive wind turbines) in state waters about three miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey and will feature a new economical type of foundation than previously used in offshore wind farm construction.

Principle Power will install a 30 MW system (five 6MW direct-drive wind turbines) approximately 18 miles off the coast of Coos Bay, Oregon, that will test a semi-submersible floating foundation for deeper water deployment.

Dominion Virginia Power will install two 6MW direct-drive wind turbines (12 MW system) 26 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach to demonstrate far from shore operations and resistance to hurricanes.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that U.S. offshore winds have a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation’s present electric capacity.

Offshore wind power is more expensive than land based systems, but wind speeds are typically higher offshore and there is less public opposition. In addition, offshore afternoon wind coincides with spikes in demand as people return home from work. Offshore wind farms can be built relative close to high population coastal areas without the need for new expensive overland transmission infrastructure.

Typically the average home in the USA uses approximately 10,000 kilowatts in a year, at that rate a megawatt can power a 1000 homes.

Interestingly in the state of Virginia, the Virginia Pilot the region’s largest and most widely read newspaper reported that the capacity for the two 6 mega watt turbines (12 mega watts total) could only provide electric service for only 3000 homes (instead of 12000) using standard usage/capacity calculations!

According to the US Energy Information Administration (FAQ) In 2012, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,837 kWh, an average of 903 kilowatthours (kWh) per month. Louisiana had the highest annual consumption at 15,046 kWh and Maine the lowest at 6,367 kWh.

In addition it was mentioned that the 47 million government grant would not cover all the cost of the project— even though the DOE had also previously awarded Dominion Power $4m in backing towards the demonstration project in 2012. It seems that Dominion Power might be suggesting to customers that additional funds would be needed.

What is the purpose of the editors of the Virginian Pilot newspaper and Dominion Power to downplay the effectiveness of a 6 Mega Watt wind turbine? Are they trying to support the increased use and/or continued investment of more coal and natural gas even after their continued use has been proven to exasperate pollution, climate change and weather issues instead of renewables?

Also not mentioned in the article or statements from Dominion Power, was why the Virginia Power Company is not installing anywhere near the electric generation capacity of the other test sites only 12 MW compared to 25 MW (New Jersey) and 30 MWs (Oregon), with the same amount of grant funds? The answer seems be because they will be testing a hurricane-resilient design of wind turbines as well as far from shore operations. However, far from shore is a relative term: The UK is planning a wind farm 100 miles from the east coast of England, at Dogger Bank and Germany’s BARD Offshore 1 Wind farm is 56 miles (90 km) from shore.

The three test US offshore wind farms won’t even start producing electricity until 2017, and while the USA is just now starting to run pilot programs to test the waters of offshore wind power quite a few other countries have had offshore wind providing power for years. Denmark’s Vindeby offshore wind farm has been operating since 1991 and that country has since added a dozen larger wind farms, since that time.

Offshore windfarm03In 2012: There were ten European countries operating a total of 1662 wind turbines at 55 different locations suppling power to almost 5 million homes.

At the end of June 2013 total European combined offshore wind energy capacity was 6,040 MW.

The Europeans, China and Japan have successfully deployed offshore wind power that now service millions of homes even though it is generally more expensive for them than the USA to build offshore wind power due to average ocean depth. For example the Atlantic Ocean near the basin counties of Norway, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom is 312 feet (or 95 meters), compared to a very gradual continental shelf off the east coast of the USA that only slopes a few meters per kilometer (i.e., less than one degree) and continues out for approximately 50 miles.

The World’s Top 25 Operational Offshore Wind Farms and Top Ten Under Construction

Country (Name) Total MW # of Turbines [Commission Year]
UK (London Array) 630 MW 175 [2012]
UK (Gwynt y Môr) 576 MW 160 [2014]*
UK (Greater Gabbard) 504 MW 107 [2012]
Denmark (Anholt) 400 MW 111 [2013]
Germany (Global Tech I) 400 MW 80 [2014]*
Germany (Trianel Borkum West II) 400 MW 80 [2014]*
Germany (BARD Offshore 1) 400 MW 80 [2013]
UK (West of Duddon Sands) 389 MW 108 [2014]*
UK (Walney phases 1&2) 367 MW 102 [2011]
Belgium (Thorntonbank phases 1-3) 325 MW 54 [2009]
UK (Sheringham Shoal) 315 MW 88 [2012]
Germany (Borkum Riffgrund 1) 312 MW 78 [2015]*
UK (Thanet) 300 MW 100 [2010]
Germany (Nordsee Ost) 295 MW 48 {2014]*
Germany (Meerwind Süd & Ost) 288 MW 80 [2014]*
Germany (DanTysk) 288 MW 80 [2014]*
Germany (EnBW Baltic 2) 288 MW 80 [2014]*
Germany (Amrumbank West) 288 MW 80 [2014]*
UK (Lincs) 270 MW 75 [2013]
Denmark (Horns Rev 2) 209 MW 91 [2009]
Denmark (Rødsand II) 207 MW 90 [2010]
China (Chenjiagang (Jiangsu) Xiangshui 201 MW 134 [2010]
UK (Lynn and Inner Dowsing) 194 MW 54 [2008]
UK (Robin Rigg (Solway Firth) 180 MW 60 [2010]
UK (Gunfleet Sands) 172 MW 48 [2010]
Denmark (Nysted (Rødsand I) 166 MW 72 [2003]
Belgium (Bligh Bank (Belwind) 165 MW 55 [2010]
Denmark (Horns Rev 1) 160 MW 80 [2002]
UK (Ormonde) 150 MW [2012]
China (Longyuan Rudong Intertidal Demo) 150 MW 60 [2011]
Netherlands (Princess Amalia) 120 MW 60 [2008]
China (Donghai Bridge) 110 MW 36 [2010]
Sweden (Lillgrund) 110 NW 48 [2007]
Netherlands (Egmond aan Zee) 108 MW 36 [2006]
Germany (Borkum Riffgat) 108 MW 30 [2014]

Video about Britain Completing World’s largest Offshore Wind Farm
The 630-megawatt London Array project to power 500,000 homes.

Large Proposed Wind Farms
Sweden and South Korea 2,500 MW
UK (Moray Firth) 1,300 MW
UK (Creyke Beck A) 1,200 MW
UK (Creyke Beck B) 1,200 MW
UK (East Anglia (formerly Norkfolk Bank)) 1,200 MW
UK (Irish Sea) 1,200 MW
UK (Teesside A) 1,200 MW
UK (Teesside B) 1,200 MW
UK (Triton Knoll B) 1,200 MW

Perhaps one reason why the USA still does not have OffShore Wind Farms and more renewable energy options is due to the actions of such monied organizations as: Institute for Energy Research, (IER) and the American Energy Alliance (AEA), which have advocated: deregulation of utilities, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) agendas, that conventional energy sources are virtually limitless, drilling for oil should be allowed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and that there is still debate climate change.

According to the ExxonMobil Corporate Giving Reports the IER received $307,000 USD from the oil company or its foundation between 2003 and 2007. The institute also received $175,000 USD from Koch Industries. The IER’s President (Thomas J. Pyle) previously worked as a lobbyist for Koch Industries and IER’s CEO & Founder (Robert L. Bradley Jr) was formerly Director of Public Relations Policy at Enron, infamous for corporate fraud and corruption.

The list of anti-green groups that lobby for and support the oil and natural gas industry, also include: The Competitive Enterprise Institute, TASSC, The Cato Institute, Manhattan Institute, The Heritage Foundation and The Mackinac Center for Public Policy.  Please be so kind as to add any additions I may have missed in the comment section.

Offshore windfarm04There is a vast amount of information already published on OffShore Wind Farms some examples can be download from KenBurridge.com “A Guide to UK Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance” and the “Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the United States ASSESSMENT OF OPPORTUNITIES AND BARRIERS September 2010 NREL/TP-500-40745


Green-Eco-EV News Reporting by Ken Green Burridge

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Kenneth Burridge test-drives electric Nissan LEAF in Melbourne Australia

EV of the Year Judge, independent green journalist, photographer, author and sustainability activist that has published over 1000 articles. Mr Burridge’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries and 300+ major cities. He is originally from the USA, but has been residing in Australia for the last seven years. Connect to Ken Burridge on: Twitter, facebook, Google+Linked in or website