*I Offshore Wind Farming I*

Goal: To educate the public about the positives of offshore wind farming, arguably the cleanest way of producing electricity, and to make it mandatory for coastal states to begin implementation of offshore wind farms in the near future

The topic I chose to research for this project is the very controversial issue of offshore wind farming. The reason why I decided to choose this topic is because it is very strongly linked to my major of ocean engineering. It takes ocean engineers to help find the correct area of ocean to put the farm, to design, and to build these massive offshore turbines. Another reason I chose this topic is because of my relationship with the water and wind, being the sailor that I am.
A Racing Dinghy Racing Through a Wind Farm
A Racing Dinghy Racing Through a Wind Farm

A Series of Offshore Wind Turbines

Many people are opposed to the idea of this cleaner form of energy because they are ‘eye sores’ on the coast and will harm the local sea and air animals. But what these people who are so opposed to these farms don’t realize is the massive amount of benefits that come from this form of energy. It is a clean and renewable energy that will help drive our country away from coal and oil burning, which is a huge cause of pollution and global warming.

Image URL:Offshore Wind Farm
Image URL: A Racing Dinghy Racing Trough a Wind Farm

As an American and a sailor my first focus was on America's first offshore wind farm to be, called Cape Wind, and how it will effect the boating activities in the Cape Cod area. Every image you see of these giant windmills out in sea, each turbine appears to be very close to one another, but once you factor in the size of these beasts you realize how far apart they actually are.
Distances Between Each Turbine in Comparison to a 45 Foot Sailboat

This image shows how far apart each of these windmills will be from each other, and the spacing in respect to a 45 foot boat, which appears like an ant compared to the distances between each turbine. Another issue that was concerning is the issue of navigating through these beasts at night. The article said that there will be navigational lights on each of the turbines down low for boats and up high for aircraft, but they will be designed to minimize their visibility from shore. I have an issue with the idea of minimizing their visibility from shore, while I understand this farm is going to take up a fair amount of area, the idea of making the navigational lights dim enough to hardly be seen from shore would make me nervous about how hard they will be to see in a dense fog or storm, when navigation of these turbines can get fairly tricky.

"Boating and Navigation." Cape Wind. Cape Wind, 2011. Web. 7 May 2012.

Image URL:Navigation

One of the greatest impacts that wind farms have, are on the environment. But the impact they have is a great impact compared to that of other methods of energy production. Wind Farms are driven entirely by wind passing over the blades, which turn the turbine inside to produce electricity. With Global warming becoming a very controversial issue in politics now a days, it is important for politicians to push for the alternative energy solution to decrease the amount of warming that our country produces.
Air Pollution
Air Pollution

Offshore wind energy, the website, has estimated the amount of carbon dioxide created by other means of electricity production (I.E. Coal, Oil, And Natural Gas) and compared them to that of offshore wind farming. The results i found on this website were very interesting. i expected wind farming to have have a very low carbon dioxide output, but did not realize how high coal, oil, and gas were.The idea of having clean air to breathe definitely is appealing to me, so that is why the idea of these wind farms is so appealing to me. My future and future generations depend on finding these cleaner methods of electricity production.

"Www.offshorewindenergy.org." Www.offshorewindenergy.org. Starforze, Sept. 2008. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://www.offshorewindenergy.org/txt2html.php?textfile=expert_guides/Environment>.

Image URL:Air Pollution

One of the big issues our country is facing right now is the high unemployment rate. As a high school senior this concerned me, i found myself wondering, where will I be in four years time, and will i have a job? As someone who is very analytic i knew i was bound to be an engineer, but there a millions and millions of engineers, i needed to find myself in a growing and developing field where the probability of getting a job would be highest. The clean and renewable energy field is growing rapidly in Europe, and it is beginning to grow in the states, so that is where i decided to put my focus.
Comparison of Onshore and Offshore Wind Energy Employment
In 2009 over 192,000 people were employed by wind energy in Europe, 10% of which focused towards the offshore sector. By 2025 the European Union expects the mount of people employed in the offshore sector to out number the amount of people employed on the land based wind farms, by 61% to 39%.When i saw these numbers i was astonished at how rapidly the field I am going into is growing. It gave me a sense of security for job placement in the future, granted all these jobs are in Europe, I do imagine our very competitive nature will have us following quickly behind the union.

"The European Wind Energy Association- Employment." European Wind Energy Association. EWEA. Web. 14 May 2012. <http://www.ewea.org/index.php?id=1638>.

Image URL:Employment Chart

Another form of energy production that has recently been brought to my attention, deals with the power of the sea is tidal energy production. This form of energy production has been used in France for many decades, since 1966 to be exact. That specific dam creates 240 mega watts of power and is the largest tidal power dam in the world, stretching almost a half mile across. Tidal power is not a very widely used form of energy production because it requires very specific conditions to operate, meaning not every coastal state could implement these dams. The dams require an area with a very high fluctuation in tides, parts of Maine would be ideal for these dams. however there are very expensive and time consuming to build, not to mention all the impacts on the environment.
Cross-section of a Tidal Power Dam
Cross-section of a Tidal Power Dam

Obviously these dams do not create pollution in the air because they are driven off of tidal currents, so in that respect they are just as "green" as the offshore wind farms I have spoken about earlier. however, in certain areas these dams do not create an issue with the tides, but in some areas the tides can be affected by a few meters, which causes a big problem to the surrounding sea life, marinas, beaches, and businesses. Not only can the marine life be affected by the change in tides, but also being cut off from the ocean. Imagine putting a big brick wall around your house that you cannot get out of. you can only last so long in there until you use up all your resources and end up dying, compared to the offshore wind farms, these dams have huge impacts on the environment surrounding them.

OEC. "Pros for Wave and Tidal Power." Tidal Energy | Pros for Wave and Tidal Power. Ocean Energy Council, 2012. Web. 17 May 2012. <http://www.oceanenergycouncil.com/index.php/Tidal-Energy/Tidal-Energy.html>.

Image URL: Cross-section of a Tidal Power Dam

A major factor in trying to develop a new anything is cost. With economies all over the world close to failing and in all sorts of debt, it is hard to even consider building any new large projects.However there are some projects that would be worth the start up cost. one of these i believe to be highly beneficial to the country are offshore wind farms.
Pie Chart Explaining Costs of Offshore Wind Farm Production
Pie Chart Explaining Costs of Offshore Wind Farm Production

The Cape Wind farm I spoke about earlier in the blog is the first major U.S. offshore wind farm that is in the process of being planned and awaiting various steps of approval. The cost of this massive farm is $1 billion dollars. not that may seem like a ton of money, but when you think about it, its a once and done purchase. you spend that money once on purchasing the turbines and the construction of the farm, and its done with. from then on out there is very little maintenance that needs to be preformed, and virtually no employees that are paid on a daily basis to operate the turbines. it is a self sustaining plant, that will practically pay for itself overtime. The amount of money we will save in the long run vs your conventional coal or oil driven plant in addition to the massive decrease in the amount of pollution that will be produced makes these farms worth every penny.

Kennedy, Charles. "Progress Made on the Atlantic Wind Connection and the NorthConnect Lines." Progress Made on the Atlantic Wind Connection and the NorthConnect Lines. Oil Price, 15 May 2012. Web. 17 May 2012. <http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Progress-Made-on-the-Atlantic-Wind-Connection-and-the-NorthConnect-Lines.html>.

Image URL:Typical Offshore Wind Energy Project Costs

Many people are opposed to the idea of offshore wind farms because they are eye sores on the coast. These are the kind of people who really don't care about anything else besides themselves. The late Ted Kennedy was one of these people. His family has an estate in the cape cod area close to the proposed Cape Wind wind farm, and he was the loudest of the protesters on the project. Ted was an avid sailor, much like myself, and sailed quite frequently in the Nantucket sound, so i can see how he would of had the same worries as i did about having these turbines interfere with navigating the sound. Unfortunately Ted passed away before the plans were finalized and approved by the Obama administration.

Proposed Area for the Cape Wind Offshore Wind Farm
Proposed Area for the Cape Wind Offshore Wind Farm

Another reason for opposition comes from U.S. senator Scott Brown, a republican who was elected to take over Kennedy's seat. Brown says that the Cape Wind farm will decrease property value in the highly touristic area and cause damage to birds, whales, fishing, aviation, and historic sites. Most of these issues have already been addressed by the Cape Wind faculty, and the other issues just seem a little bit silly. Whales will not run into one of these turbines and die. The opposition to these farms seem like a waste of time to argue over. In 2009 the wind energy field grew by 27% and supplied 85,000 jobs in the U.S. and as the field continues to grow, so will the positives.

"US Approves First Offshore Wind Farm despite Kennedy Opposition." The Telegraph. The Telegraph, 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 21 May 2012. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/7648857/US-approves-first-offshore-wind-farm-despite-Kennedy-opposition.html>.

Image URL:Proposed Area for the Cape Wind Offshore Wind Farm

A Rainbow Stretches Over an Unfinished Wind Farm
A Rainbow Stretches Over an Unfinished Wind Farm

The article i have found heregives a great overview of all the possible benefits of offshore wind farming, some new peices of information i have discovered is that wind energy provides more jobs per dollar invested and more jobs per kilowatt-hour generated compared to the conventional means of electricity production, such as gas and oil, which is exactly what our country needs at this time, to help us recover from such high unemployment rates and a crumbling economy. Another statistic that shocked me was the comparison of cost per kilowatt-hour generated compared to other methods of electricity production. It costs twice as much to get one kilowatt-hour from a geothermal plant compared to wind farms, and it costs five times more to get that same amount of power from a solar energy plant compared to these wind farms. So clearly the economic choice for clan energy should be wind farming.

"The Benefits of Wind." Wind Energy Systems Technology. Galveston Offshore Wind. Web. 22 May 2012. <http://www.windenergypartners.biz/offshorewind.html>.

Image URL:Rainbow Over an Unfinished Wind Farm