Clean Energy Agenda
The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of tapping 54
gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. Google is on board with a recent
major investment in the Atlantic Wind Connection, a transmission line that will
support 350 miles of offshore wind projects. Port cities would breathe new life
as thousands of workers commuted to jobs out at sea building and maintaining
wind turbines. Manufacturing jobs would also multiply as turbines with blades
longer than football fields would need to be produced domestically because of
their sheer size.
Above: The Lillgrund Wind Farm sits six miles off the coast of southern Sweden and can produce 110 megawatts of energy—enough to power 60,000 homes.
Free and Abundant Energy: Now all we have to do is get it
With families still rebuilding after Hurricane Irene, East
Coasters are all too familiar with the destructive power of wind. But what if
it were put to good use—generating clean energy?
“Offshore wind is a massive energy source just sitting there
that we haven’t even begun to tap,” says Catherine Bowes, Northeast global
warming program manager at the National Wildlife Federation.
The potential is enormous. The U.S. Department of Energy
estimates that there are 213 gigawatts of wind energy in accessible areas of
shallow waters off the Eastern seaboard alone—enough to replace 200 average
coal-fired power plants. Offshore wind is one of the few sources of renewable
energy abundant and steady enough to become a primary energy source on the East
Coast. “Wind energy presents an incredible opportunity for cleaning up our air,
achieving energy independence, and creating thousands of jobs,” Bowes
continues. But it’s not going to be easy.
Developing our offshore wind energy resources at this scale
involves coordinating several state and federal bodies, lining up investors,
and getting energy purchasers—not to mention the work of siting and building
the wind farms in rough waters. As a new source of competition in the lucrative energy sector,
offshore wind must also outmaneuver competitors; powerful oil industry
representatives are trying to stop offshore wind projects in their tracks.
Clean energy advocates need to keep the pressure on to make sure that political
and logistical hurdles are cleared.
The Campaign for Atlantic Offshore Wind, a project of the
Conservation Law Foundation, Environment America, the National Wildlife
Federation, and the Southern Environmental Law Center, received a $200,000
grant to build political and public support for wind power. It is publishing an
updated report on its generation potential, as well as the economic and
environmental benefits of bringing this new clean energy source ashore. “In
addition to mobilizing diverse, influential voices to support offshore wind
development, the Campaign for Atlantic Offshore Wind is making sure the
permitting process is expedited without compromising the integrity of the
environmental review process,” says Bowes.
Last year, a $100,000 grant to the Clean Energy Group helped
it begin to line up funding for offshore wind power. The Group got its first
purchasing contract from the Department of Defense, which will use the energy
at military bases. With a recent $100,000 grant, the Group will continue to
make the economic case for wind power and find financing for the project. “We
are launching a ground-breaking ‘collaborative purchasing’ pilot project,” says
Mark Sinclair, vice president of the Group. “This project would enable state
and federal governments, utilities, and municipalities to use their collective
buying power to reduce costs and make offshore wind cost competitive.”