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America's Offshore Wind Race is On: Can the US Compete with Canada?

By Stacy Feldman

Oct 15, 2009

For years the promise of North America's first offshore wind farm has been just that – a promise. The reality has been a big disappointment: proposals pigeonholed by Bush-era dirty energy policies and NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) opposition.

The Cape Wind project off Nantucket Sound was to be the continent's first offshore wind park. Eight years on, it remains in limbo. The latest hiccup? Two Indian tribes are the turbines by getting Nantucket Sound listed as a "traditional cultural property." In other words, more delay is on the way.

But the Massachusetts wind farm is no longer the only offshore game in town. With a pro-renewable energy administration in Washington, increasing state and provincial clean energy standards and coming carbon regulations, a big push is underway that could make North America the next big market for offshore wind generation.

The race is on. And for now Ontario, Canada, is in the driver's seat.

Toronto-based Trillium Power is expected to build the first major offshore wind fleet in the Great Lakes and probably North America. The 140-turbine facility will deliver 710 megawatts of power, courtesy of gusts blowing off Lake Ontario, enough to power 300,000 homes in the province.

Around 15 other such projects have been proposed in Ontario, including the largest in the world – a 4,400 megawatt wind farm on the Ontario side of Lake Erie.

Canadian Hydro Developers recently bought the rights to build the enormous offshore wind installation. The plan calls for 900 turbines across a 50-mile stretch of lake. Currently, the largest offshore wind farm in the world is one-tenth that size and sits off the coast of Denmark. That 91-turbine, 200-megawatt facility provides zero-carbon power to 200,000 homes.

If the Lake Erie project gets built, its windmills will churn out enough juice to power two million homes.

Canadian Hydro why it wanted in:

"Canadian Hydro already owns and operates the two largest wind facilities in Canada. We are leading the way in Ontario by generating 40 percent of the province's installed renewable energy capacity, and we are eager to pioneer offshore wind in Ontario and North America."

But why Ontario? In a word, incentives.

The government of Dalton McGuinty just launched a feed-in tariff as part of the Green Energy Act in Ontario. The program will pay producers 19 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity their offshore turbines pump out.

For its part, the Ontario government is being spurred to action by its commitment to eliminate coal plants in the province by 2014. There are no plans for new nuclear to take coal's place. That's helped to make wind a No. 1 priority. The numbers are proof: In 2003, the province had 10 turbines; today, it has more than 670, with 975 turbines expected by 2012.

The Great Lakes are one of Ontario's greatest energy assets. Estimates claim the province has at least 34,500 megawatts of shallow water offshore wind potential spread over 64 different sites.

The province isn't alone in trying to tap the richness of those winds. Offshore wind power projects have been proposed in the states of Ohio, Michigan, New York and Wisconsin, though the processes there are expected to be slow and complex.

The Eastern seaboard states are expected to be the first to finalize offshore windfarms in the U.S. According to by Stanford University and the University of Delaware, a stretch of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Cod to North Carolina has enough wind potential to generate 330,000 megawatts of electricity. That's almost twice the current energy demand in the nine-state Mid-Atlantic region.

Currently, the U.S. has no offshore wind installations. That will change, but whether it happens fast enough to beat its Canadian competitor has yet to be seen. Beating Europe is certainly out of the question: North America has fallen decades behind the continent, where some 30 offshore wind farms are presently in operation.

In a major step forward, though, President Obama's Department of Interior issued the first-ever leases for offshore wind facilities in June.

On top of that, the state of Delaware has approved Bluewater Wind's proposed project of up to 600 megawatts. The installation could meet half of the state's electricity needs. New Jersey has plans in the works for several 350-megawatt installations. Rhode Island, Maryland and New York are said to be in negotiations with developers, among other states.

And just last week week, Duke Energy and the University of North Carolina announced plans for a pilot project involving three demonstrations of commercial turbines off North Carolina's coast.

Keeping up the competitive rhetoric, Duke Energy its project's turbines "may be the first turbines placed in water in the United States."


See also:

While Ottawa Sleeps, Ontario Takes Great Leap Forward on Climate

Ontario Okays Wind Power in the Great Lakes

Offshore Wind: The Best Energy Investment America Could Make?

America's First Offshore Wind Farm Coming to Delaware, Finally

Prevailing Winds from Mass. Capitol Shift in Cape Wind's Favor

China Beats US to Offshore Wind Development

Wind energy...

The United States is an attractive destination for the renewable energy market. With the increasing demand for energy, wind power has been projected to net 4.5 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2030. Though only 2% of the wind energy is used for electrical generation in the United States, it is targeted to reach 20% in the future. Companies like Pacific Crest Transformers manufactures liquid-filled distribution transformers and work towards building a green economy. The Pacific Crest Transformers website will provide more information.

In what country has wind

In what country has wind energy been credited with reduction in harmful emissions?

Exactly where has wind energy prompted the closure of a fossil fuel facility?

Cape Wind is a victim of bad economics, not NIMBYs.

Cape Wind is "not economically viable" according to Minerals Management Service and the U.S. EPA comments of February '09 on the MMS Final Environmental Impact Statement FEIS. That is After public subsidies that are equal to 77% of project construction costs.

DOE projects ISO NE wind-required integration cost for 6.8 GW of wind will cost ratepayers and taxpayers $3.9 billion.

Offshore wind energy is neither technically nor economically feasible. GE discontinued the GE 3.6 MW wind turbine spec'd by Cape Wind that still does not have a Power Purchase Agreement, or financing, or a source for their wind turbines after 8 years in permit review.

Providence Business Journal
N. Grid rejects Deepwater Wind proposal

"...But in a letter to the PUC, Grid called Deepwater's proposal "not commercially reasonable" and said "in pure financial terms, [it] is uneconomic by a significant margin for Rhode Island customers for the entire term."

"National Grid estimated the cost of electricity generated by Deepwater's wind farms at 30.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, more than triple the current rate for traditional electricity, which in Rhode Island is mostly generated using natural gas. Deepwater put the cost closer to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour."

"Deepwater Wind is an offshore wind development company formed by Newton-based First Wind Holdings Inc. and other investors."

Preoccupation with wind energy has resulted in fuel poverty in Britian where BLACKOUTS (attributed to wind energy) are predicted by the Renewable Energy Foundation think tank.


Citizens need reliable and affordable energy. Onshore wind energy is too costly and unreliable. Offshore wind energy is vastly more expensive, and even less reliable.

The race to fuel poverty and Blackouts is one in the same as the offshore wind race.

Thank You,

Barbara Durkin

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