Sunday, February 11, 2007

Delaware windpower proposal in the works

The News Journal reports that a company, Bluewater Wind, has proposed a wind farm six miles off the coast of southern Delaware to generate electricity for the region. The 200 turbine farm would be one the largest of its kind in the world and the first of its kind in the US. It is planned for completion in 2012.

I think this is a great idea for all of the obvious reasons that wind is a renewable resource and doesn't generate carbon dioxide and this diversifies the sources of power for Delaware. The area is ideal for the project with steady winds and shallow water. The project will be the best way to demonstrate the viability of wind power on this scale as long as Delaware taxpayers don't get hit with the bill if it doesn't work out. A commenter warns us that Delaware HB6 would allow energy providers to get the taxpayers to pay for these stranded costs if the project can't pay its way.

There are the regular objections in the article and the comments. Some are concerned about the effect on wildlife, the sea life during construction and birds during operation. The builders report that the sea life generally returns after the building disruption is over and turbines spin slower on these than previous technology, so the birds are probably safe. There are some not in my backyard (or in my beach view) protests but simulations show that the towers will be barely visible from the shore if at all. From the Bluewater Wind FAQ - "Turbine visibility would be about half the height of your thumbnail, and about as thin as a toothpick."

There are comments calling for solar power instead. I have never understood why solar and wind are an either or proposition, building wind turbines prevents no one from putting in solar power on their roof. It is actually good idea to do both since they are often complimentary, sometimes the wind blows when the sun doesn't shine and vice versa. Either of these seems like a reasonable alternative to continuing to build traditional fossil fuel power plants and keeping all of our eggs in one basket so to speak.

The project is still in the proposal stage, but since the legislature has required that 10% of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by the year 2018, one or another of these projects must eventually come to fruition.

(the photo example is Danish wind turbines near Copenhagen from Wikipedia.)

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