The great potential of Atlantic offshore wind

Life never ceases to amaze me.  On Sunday, a multi-millionaire businessman, maker of the Segway motorized scooters died while riding one of his scooters – he plunged 80 feet over a limestone cliff into a river.  Jimi Heselden, a former miner, died at the age of 62, with a fortune estimated at $263 Million.  He was riding one of the Segway X2 offroad scooters, near his home. This reminds me that no matter how rich or powerful, no matter how permanent things seem, everything is impermanent.

If you think that is crazy, then check this out.  After the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the recent explosion on another oil rig, we still look to the Oceans for oil reserves.  However, the environmental group Oceana just released a report showing that offshore wind development on our Atlantic coast has more capacity and is more cost effective than drilling for oil reserves:

“On the Atlantic coast, an area targeted for expansion of oil and gas activities, offshore wind can generate nearly 30% more electricity than offshore oil and gas resources combined. In addition, wind development would cost about $36 billion less than offshore oil and gas production combined, while creating about three times as many jobs per dollar invested than fossil fuel production. Based on conservative assumptions for offshore wind and generous assumptions for offshore oil and natural gas, this study found that by investing in offshore wind on the East Coast, rather than offshore oil and gas, Americans would get more energy for less money while protecting our oceans.”

The study looks at 11 states on the Eastern seaboard, and examines how they make power now, and the capacity for offshore development.   The beauty of offshore wind is that capacity sits next to major population centers along the East Coast.  As this study shows, offshore wind can produce much of our electricity load:

“In addition to these obvious benefits, offshore wind potential is best where population is largely focused, and could power much of the East Coast. Delaware, Massachusetts and North Carolina could generate enough electricity from offshore wind to equal current electricity generation. Other East Coast states such as New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina could supply 92%, 83% and 64% of their current electricity generation with offshore wind, respectively.”

Why aren’t we shifting to this outstanding resource?  Right now in Rhode Island, an offshore wind development is in the works that will provide much needed jobs, as well as clean energy.  However, some Rhode Island ratepayers still resist because they want to enjoy subsidized fossil power that doesn’t account for externalities like health costs and greenhouse gas emissions.  Currently, the development is tied up in Court.  The state utility commission finally approved the deal in August but the Attorney General appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court.

In any rate it seems high time to start development of offshore wind.  As this timely report shows, wind power is more cost effective and more plentiful than oil reserves on the Atlantic Coast, and doesn’t have the costly externalities of fossil fuels.  Our grandchildren will thank us.

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3 Comments on “The great potential of Atlantic offshore wind”

  1. Nate says:

    Great find! I hadn’t seen that news article. I’ll put one or both of the study results in this week’s Sustainability Almanac.

    I wonder what’s up with Maine’s super-crazy 913% number. Is it especially windy there, or is it a result of their “coastline to population” ratio?

    Just a quick note that Jimi Heselden isn’t the inventor of the Segway. He bought the company. The Segway was invented by Dean Kamen.

  2. inafutureage says:

    Thanks Nate! I think you are right about Maine – the population away from the coasts is tiny. As my wife says, it gets damn cold up there in the winter 🙂

  3. […] cents/kw.  I detailed the long and complicated process of this development, here, here, and here; this study details the great potential of Atlantic offshore wind.  Suffice it to say, this expansion bodes […]


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