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Energy: Is offshore wind power finally coming?

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Will the U.S. finally start developing its promising offshore windpower potential?

Feds prepare to lease about 245,000 acres off  New England Coast

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Nine companies are lined up to bid on the first-ever sale of leases for offshore wind power, with two big parcels about nine miles south of Rhode Island and Massachusetts on the auction block.

According to a report from the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory, development of the 245,000-acre area could generate up to 3,400 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 1 million homes and up significantly from previous estimates for the area.

While development is still a few years off, the projects could finally help the U.S. start catching up to countries like Holland, Germany and Denmark, which have been producing significant amounts of offshore wind energy for many years. The auction is scheduled for July 31. Information and documents on the projects are compiled on this website. Continue reading

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Will new English Channel wind farms harm gannets?

Gannets in the English Channel could be affected by proposed offshore wind power developments. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Early data suggests proposed sites may interfere with foraging

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — University of Liverpool biologists say a slew of proposed new offshore wind power developments could affect the foraging behavior of northern gannets that nest on Alderney in the Channel Islands.

The tracking suggests that energy planners need to take a closer look at the proposed installations.

“We found that the area where the gannets traveled for food overlapped with nine sites earmarked for offshore marine energy developments which suggests that the feeding habits of these birds could be affected, as well as the potential for collision with wind turbine developments,” said Louise Soanes, with University of Liverpool’s School of Environmental Sciences. “These sites also fell across three different territorial waters in the UK, France and the Channel Islands,” which has implications for international collaboration and cooperation,” Soanes said. Continue reading

Feds taking input on proposed offshore wind farm

Proposed facility off the coast of Maine could show feasibility of floating turbines

Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo courtesy Leonard G via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Offshore wind power is already a significant part of the energy portfolio in countries like Denmark, Holland and Germany, and the U.S., with extensive areas of coastline, has the potential to become a major producer of offshore wind energy.

Developing the resource isn’t without challenges, as some communities have objected to the visual impacts of wind turbines near shorelines, and there are also concerns over impacts to wildlife, primarily birds. Infrastructure is another issue, as the offshore facilities require transmission lines to bring the power to shore.

On the positive side, offshore turbines could be sited near coastal urban areas with dense populations, where the energy is needed the most. But for now, many of those questions are still hypothetical, as offshore windpower is still in its infancy in this country.

That may start to change, however, as the Department of Interior starts to scrutinize a proposed project that could demonstrate floating offshore wind technology on the Outer Continental Shelf  of the coast of Maine. Continue reading

Weekend headlines

The Obama administration, led by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, is making significant progress on developing renewable energy resources.

Renewable energy is in the news in a big way …

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The weekend Summit Voice stories tilted toward coverage of renewable energy topics, as we reported on a huge federal push to ease the way for offshore wind power development. Another story looked at the need to develop storage and transmission capacity for renewable energy.

In another big under-reported story, we looked at the settlement of a lawsuit involving billions of dollars of Native American money held in trust and improperly handled by federal officials.

Finally, in the weekend travel feature, we visit a national park in Austria, where we learn how mindful agriculture can help promote biodiversity. Click, read and share with the social media buttons at the end of each story.

 

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