Sunny
55°
Sunny
Hi 58° | Lo 35°

My Turn: Our energy future? The answer may lie offshore

  • In this photo made Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the country's first floating wind turbine, the University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype, generates power off the coast of Castine, Maine. Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    In this photo made Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the country's first floating wind turbine, the University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype, generates power off the coast of Castine, Maine. Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

  • In this Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 photo, the University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype wind turbine generates power off the coast of Castine, Maine. It is the country's first floating wind turbine. Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    In this Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 photo, the University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype wind turbine generates power off the coast of Castine, Maine. It is the country's first floating wind turbine. Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

  • FILE - This Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 file photo shows the country's first floating wind turbine works off the coast of Castine, Maine. With Norwegian company Statoil's decision to pull its $120 million dollar project from consideration in Maine in late October 2013, the future of offshore wind production in the state now lies primarily in the hands of the University of Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, files)

    FILE - This Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 file photo shows the country's first floating wind turbine works off the coast of Castine, Maine. With Norwegian company Statoil's decision to pull its $120 million dollar project from consideration in Maine in late October 2013, the future of offshore wind production in the state now lies primarily in the hands of the University of Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, files)

  • In this Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 photo, a lobster boat passes the country's first floating wind turbine off the coast of Castine, Maine. The University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype has been generating power since the summer.  Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    In this Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 photo, a lobster boat passes the country's first floating wind turbine off the coast of Castine, Maine. The University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype has been generating power since the summer. Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

  • In this photo made Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the country's first floating wind turbine, the University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype, generates power off the coast of Castine, Maine. Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
  • In this Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 photo, the University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype wind turbine generates power off the coast of Castine, Maine. It is the country's first floating wind turbine. Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
  • FILE - This Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 file photo shows the country's first floating wind turbine works off the coast of Castine, Maine. With Norwegian company Statoil's decision to pull its $120 million dollar project from consideration in Maine in late October 2013, the future of offshore wind production in the state now lies primarily in the hands of the University of Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, files)
  • In this Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 photo, a lobster boat passes the country's first floating wind turbine off the coast of Castine, Maine. The University of Maine's 9,000-pound prototype has been generating power since the summer.  Records show Gov. Paul LePage’s administration was working behind the scenes to derail Norwegian company Statoil’s proposal for an offshore wind project that’s projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

As New Hampshire begins another effort at future energy planning, and growing attention – pro and con – is being given to electricity transmission and wind power development, we need to be asking which path leads to real sustainability and what power landscape we should leave for future generations. Recent developments have focused on the state’s ridgetops and North Country, yet in the long run our attention will need to be in the opposite direction: toward the Gulf of Maine off our shores.

When thinking about future power for our region, we should consider a few basic facts of geography:

1. As any sailor knows, wind is stronger and more consistent a few miles offshore than almost anywhere on land. It is also closer to population centers – and the existing electrical grid – than most other sites being developed for wind power.

2. The U.S. Department of Energy and others calculate that there is a potential wind power resource in the Gulf of Maine – from Cape Cod to Eastport, Maine – of more than 200,000 megawatts. That’s more than six times the existing power capacity of all the New England states.

3. While wind is fairly consistent throughout the Gulf, existing deep-water ports and marine industrial facilities are not – there are only so many available to build and maintain the numerous offshore wind farms needed to tap this resource.

The future is now

What we’re talking about here is the construction of hundreds of huge floating wind turbine platforms, each about the size of a 747 jet on-end, which would be towed out to appropriate sites far offshore, moored to the ocean bottom and connected by undersea cables to bring the power onshore. This may sound like science fiction, but the future is now – there have been full-scale prototype turbines operating off the shores of Portugal and Norway, and most recently off Fukushima, Japan. Closer to home, an 1/8-scale, grid-tied turbine was installed off Castine, Maine, this past summer, and shallower water wind farms on piers have been operating throughout Europe for years. Research will determine the most cost-effective and sturdy designs, but most of what’s involved is established aeronautic, electrical and marine engineering.

Critics of wind power have often argued that it mars the natural landscape, creates noise pollution and threatens wildlife. Much of this criticism is clearly overblown when compared with other existing power sources, like coal and fracked gas, but it’s largely a nonissue when installation goes offshore.

Even with turbines this large, wind farms are out-of-sight when positioned 10 miles or more offshore, as proposed. Most marine and migrating birds stay closer to shore, as reports from wildlife experts indicate.

Consideration needs to be given to marine mammals and key fisheries, but it also turns out that floating platforms – especially those not emitting toxic oil and drilling fluids – can serve as sanctuaries for fish and other marine life.

Maine leads the way

The state of Maine has already set an ambitious goal of 5 gigawatts of power – that’s equivalent to four Seabrook plants – from offshore wind turbines by 2030. Combined with other renewable power sources, this is more than enough to power the whole state. Getting all this built and maintained off the coast of Maine is projected to bring $20 billion to the state economy and produce 16,700 jobs over 20 years.

The state is already collaborating with private industry on this plan, which calls for building at least 800 turbines and platforms, or one every week until 2030.

All this construction, staging and maintenance needs to be conducted from deepwater ports with appropriate facilities and workforce, as well as deepwater access to the Gulf of Maine. While much of this work will likely center on the Portland area, the Port of Portsmouth is also well positioned to conduct such activities, especially in the southern portion of the Gulf.

Whatever its future as a military base, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in particular is ideally suited to play a key role in the development and installation of large offshore wind and other renewable technologies. It has the right facilities along with a workforce trained in marine engineering, construction/repair and maintenance. The Navy even has an existing program for potential public-private development projects at its facilities.

A bill will be introduced in January to set up a legislative study committee to look into our state’s energy and economic potential for offshore wind development. With so much at stake for both our environment and economy, we can’t afford not to be pursuing this vast sustainable resource right off our shores.

(Doug Bogen is executive director of the Seacoast Anti-Pollution League.)

Let's use common sense. Drill and drill heavily for as much fossil fuel as we can harvest. Take the tax on gasoline and oil and reinvest that in alternative energy sources. In the meantime, flood the world market with cheap oil and defeat the oil cartels. Give the fossil fuel companies reason to invest in alternvative energy and mandate that gas and oil which are harvested here, stay here. Once we identify the elusive energy source which will produce out BTU requirements as a society, switch over to it. Trains and windmills are all that climate change hysterics have to offer.

Ask the native fishermen of Barrow, Alaska if they believe in global warming and climate change and you will get an answer that has nothing to do with politics and every thing to do with facts.

Speaking of facts, you'll notice that I never mentioned Cape Wind in the article - simply because it doesn't represent the approach being taken off of Maine and elsewhere. And we also can't drill our way to cheap or sustainable electric power, as it currently provides barely 5% of electricity sources in New England, largely due to high cost. And does ANYBODY really want to see oil platforms off our coast, in prime fishing areas (where it actually exists "here" in NE)? But since others had to bring up opposition to Cape Wind, it IS another Koch brother - Bill - who's bankrolling current opposition there, and most of his ill-gotten fortune is also from oil development. So much for "grassroots." And most folks who respect facts think there are other issues, like preventing further climate disruption and further deaths from fossil fuels, to be considered here beyond simple costs of electricity. (But for the record, researchers at UMO are aiming for a competitive 10 cents per kw/hr delivered cost from offshore wind in the next decade.)

HEADLINES for liberals : "climate disruption" alarmist movement is dead as there has been no globull worming for 17 year nor has there been any greater incidence of extreme weather. QUOTE: Pachauri, climate-science chairman of the IPCC, was compelled to announce in Melbourne that there had indeed been no global warming for 17 years

Sorry, Sail - that "quote" from Pachauri wasn't a proper quote at all, and the paraphrase was in Murdock's journalistically-suspect The Australian, so is suspicious from the get-go. If he was referring to air temps, then that's just a tiny portion of overall warming (see "oceans") - a common deception among denialists. Details can be found here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/australian-pachauri-global-warming.html. Where did you get this crock, from the Heartland (heartless) Institute, no doubt funded by aforementioned Koch Bros. and/or their oily cronies?

The poster above has cut-and-pasted the same distorted headline repeatedly, despite knowing the claim is inaccurate at best. In fact, the headline claim from the poster above is false, and relies on a deliberate distortion by a journalist whose newspaper was forced to retract another of his articles on climate science, one that falsely claimed there was no link between global warming and sea level rise. Contrary to the impression the cut-and-paste gives, the article in question NEVER quoted Pachauri directly, and the newspaper REFUSED to release a transcript or audio of the interview. What we do know is true is that global surface AIR temperatures have "plateaued" over the last decade--NOT 17 years as the article claims--AND at record high levels. Also contrary to the misleading impression the article gives, this does NOT mean a halt to the warming, and it certainly does not disprove the fact of global warming. Surface air temps represent only about 10% of the warming, while about 90% of current warming is going into the oceans, as temperature measurements show. Sea levels continue to rise, both from the loss of sea ice and from thermal expansion--warming water increases in volume. The warming trend is best seen by looking at a graph that shows 10 year averages, like the one shown here: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/11/05/climate_pause_nope.htm

DELEMA ! who to believe? .. a grade school teacher globull warming alarmist VS FACTS from many reputable sources - Readers can google any one of these statements to get the truth. 1)the mean rate of sea level rise over the period 1904–2003 was found to be1.74±0.16mm….. neither tide gauges nor satellite measurements suggest acceleration is occurring . 2) slowdown of ocean thermal expansion in the Pacific during last decade," which is in direct opposition to claims that the oceans "ate the global warming." 3) ABSOLUTE BEST - MUST READ - Bottomless Pit: Even if ocean ate the warming, would only change ocean temperature by IMMEASURABLE hundredths-of-a-degree...4) “even the New York Times has at last been constrained to admit what Dr. Pachauri of the IPCC was constrained to admit some months ago. There has been no global warming statistically distinguishable from zero for getting on for two decades.”

You fail to credit your "sources", except the Times, and that "quote" presumably is from an opinion piece or blog--not a news story. There is a difference, though you always seem to have trouble telling the two apart.The rest of your claims, regarding warming oceans and sea level rise--both unsourced--are likely from WUWT or Heartland--both bankrolled by the Kochs and other deep-pocket deniers, and both of which have the nasty habit of selectively presenting the facts they present on climate change. Your claims on sea level rise are directly contradicted here, in this sourced passage: "Core samples, tide gauge readings, and, most recently, satellite measurements tell us that over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). However, the annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year, roughly twice the average speed of the preceding 80 years." Feel free to post your sources, so they can fairly be judged as to their accuracy by readers. http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/critical-issues-sea-level-rise/ More information on ocean warming and the "pause" can be found here: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/zeroing-in-on-ipccs-sea-level-rise-warming-hiatus-16532

guess your google thingy isn't working - or more likely - as usual - the liberal wants somebody else to do his homework. - not that he would read them as it does not fit his religion

Nice article, and nice post. Thanks.

Sail is correct...define "nimby" ...

Most of the opposition to Cape Wind has been from front groups financed by the Koch bros. not locals. Offshore wind power makes good sense - unlike no. pass.

The Kennedy clan is financed by Koch Bros? How about the 30% increase in local electric rates creating a grass roots movement - NICE TRY - keep coming back

Oh the Koch Brothers are the boogie men of those who can't put reasonable thought into much beyond ideology.

Hey Itsa - they dont even have the right Koch - Bill is a famous local sailor and David and Charles are the famous Texans. FYI ... biggest utilities in Massachusetts had signed contracts to buy land-based wind power from Maine and New Hampshire for 8 cents per kilowatt-hour; Cape Wind, by comparison, has contracts with those same utilities to start at 19 cents per kilowatt-hour, with built-in escalation clauses of 3.5 percent a year.

Our energy future lies in the ground, it is called "oil". We need to drill for oil, reinvest that into research on wind energy. Drill here, drill now......move forward on the Keystone Pipeline.

The NIMBY's will kill this just as they are trying to kill Northern Pass and Keystone Pipeline.... Anybody remember what decade the Cape Wind project started?

I almost always agree with you Sail, but, honestly, unless this is going to cut rate payers bills in half, there is no need to pursue this.

Not for or against - just educating with FACTS

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.