A 12 MW $120 million floating offshore wind farm in Maine has been put on hold by Norwegian energy company Statoil after an amendment backed by the Maine’s flat earth governor re-opened bidding after the project had been approved.
The governor has taken NIMBY opposition to renewable energy to comically deranged levels.
The amendment appears to be the result of a decision by the office of Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, who is on record as opposing wind power. In an op-ed, local newspaper the Kennebec Journal said LePage has “even claimed that wind power is a fraud, saying that the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s windmill is turned by ‘a little electric motor’ and not wind, a statement that even he later admitted was laughably false.”
The United States still has no offshore wind. Statoil may move the project to Norway, where politicians do not live in Bizzaro World, and really, who can blame them?
However, the offshore wind leases are only off Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia, and if any of these offshore wind farms actually get built, something which is not a given considering the levels of NIMBYism in this country, they will be our first.
Our ponderously slow process of getting offshore wind makes us look ridiculous compared to, say, Germany and Scotland, who already have plentiful offshore wind and are building more.
Cape Wind off Cape Cod may finally get built after over ten years of delays and obstacles, mostly from ultra-wealthy NIMBYs like the Kennedys who apparently find the thought of having to look at offshore wind turbines far out on the horizon just too hideous to comprehend as they drive their Priuses and pretend to be green. Happily though, newly elected House member Joseph P. Kennedy III has broken with the family and now supports Cape Wind.
Maybe someday we will actually have offshore wind farms off both coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico. I sure hope so.
Oh, I suppose we should he happy that the Department of the Interior is asking for public comment on its Environmental Assessment for offshore wind in the mid-Atlantic. But this is just the start of a process that could easily take years before offshore wind is actually installed there.
“America’s offshore wind resources offer great potential for helping power the Eastern seaboard and spurring new jobs and innovation,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “The ‘Smart from the Start’ initiative will help companies identify areas offshore that are best suited for wind development.”
If the US was genuinely ‘Smart from the Start’ about offshore wind, we would have had it installed ten years ago. Europe and the UK are so far ahead of us it’s embarrassing. I mean, we haven’t even left the starting line. The sad truth is the US still has no offshore wind power. None, zero, zilch. This is pathethic.
Cape Wind off Cape Cod is a telling example of the dysfunction in this country. The approval process has taken at least ten years and threatens to continue. Wealthy NIMBYs like the Kennedy’s hypocritically say they are environmentalists while opposing Cape Wind because they might be forced to see a tiny wind turbine in the ocean from their back porch. Oh, the horror.
Meanwhile, in the mid-Atlantic, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement wheezes on about thinking about maybe installing wind in the ocean at some distant point in the future as long as everyone is ok with it and after an interminable years-long process has ensued.
While Cape Cod sleepwalks and the federal government issues ponderous plans for the mid-Atlantic, Texas is charging ahead with offshore wind plans and will probably be the first state to install it. Yes, Texas. They get it and already have more wind power installed on land than any other state.
The UpWind Project, which is funded by the EU, is attempting to create ginormous 20 MW offshore wind turbines. You can’t just take a 5MW tubine and make it bigger because the laws of physics intrude rudely.
However, scaling laws show that if you scale dimensions to the power of two, the weight goes up to the power of eight. This means you’ve got four times as much energy but eight times as much weight, and therefore, cost!
Also, the blades needed to be redesigned so they have a independent flap like an airplane wing. This cuts the weight of the blade by 25%.
Models of these turbines work in the lab. No one knows yet if such behemoths can be sited successfully in the ocean. If they can, then each 20 MW turbine could produce energy for 13,000 homes.
The grid, which would become fully operational in 2020, would allow the EU countries to share renewable electricity throughout the continent and the British Isles.
Meanwhile, here in the supposedly United States, we’ve been squabbling for years about whether or not to have offshore wind power at all. We still don’t have one single, solitary offshore wind turbine. That’s right, not one. God forbid a Kennedy should have to look out a window and see a turbine fifteen miles out in the ocean. Oh the horror. And if it’s not environmentalist NIMBYs (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one) then it’s lunatic right wingers who would prefer we choke on coal fumes or squabbling states afraid someone other state might get one up on them so better kill the whole thing instead or bury it in endless bureaucratic hogtwaddle.
Europe has large amounts of renewable energy with more coming every day. Countries there are joining together to build more. But here in the good ole US of A we are so polarized we seemingly can’t even accomplish simple tasks. I mean, WTF is wrong with this country? Seriously.