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Offshore Wind: Balancing efficiency and accountability

Offshore Wind: Balancing efficiency and accountability



This panel will address whether threats from climate change, mercury emissions and other effects of fossil fuel dependence justify development of offshore wind in select areas of the Great Lakes. What ...

This panel will address whether threats from climate change, mercury emissions and other effects of fossil fuel dependence justify development of offshore wind in select areas of the Great Lakes. What state and federal regulatory schemes currently exist and are they adequate to protect the lakes? How are regulators, developers and environmental groups addressing wind development and environmental protection?



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  • Why consider offshore wind? What would it mean for the lakes/oceans/society—what are the tradeoffs? What will it take to advance sustainable offshore development
  • Part of building social acceptance for wind has to do with talking about the impacts that offshore wind farms would avoid, because understanding these tradeoffs is an important part of making these policy decisions. We need utility-scale renewables to be able to close down old coal.
  • Outstanding wind resource (better than land), close to load centers, driven by RPS and other renewable energy incentives—it is particularly compelling given that it has local economic development benefits. Has become difficult to site onshore wind. Opportunity for utility scale renewable. Massive turbines
  • Image is a radar image of songbird migration—take-off in the evening from stopover sites. Just a one-time snapshot—not the kind of data you would want for siting, but gives a sense of avian movement.
  • Story of partnership --SC joined b/c think so critical to advance OSW; want to answer key questions about how to develop appropriately, which is why we are funding the bird/bat monitoring --also helped recruit participation from WI, to help project become a reality, to foster collaboration between mi and wi, and to make most efficient use of resources: We Energies had put out RFP for a met tower, but only had $3M so did not have responses. We encouraged them to apply those resources to this project, and enouraged the PSC to support rate recovery for their investment. The Lake Michigan Wind Assessment project, a research partnership between Grand Valley State University and the University of Michigan, will deploy state-of-the-art laser (LIDAR) wind sensing technology and other instrumentation on a floating buoy / research platform manufactured by  AXYS Technologies , Inc. of Sidney, British Columbia.  The buoy, called  WindSentinel , is scheduled for deployment on Lake Michigan in late September of 2011. The principal research technology on board the WindSentinel will be a  Vindicator  laser wind sensor manufactured by  Catch the Wind  of Virginia. This will be the first time that laser wind sensing technology will be used on a floating platform to measure commercial scale offshore wind resources. The WindSentinel will provide extended season, real-time in-the-water data. The flexibility and mobility of the buoy provides significant cost and time savings as compared to constructing a traditional meteorological (met) tower with anemometer instrumentation. This new and highly mobile research capacity brings new and unique capability to explore the potential of future offshore wind energy development  on the Great Lakes.

Offshore Wind: Balancing efficiency and accountability Offshore Wind: Balancing efficiency and accountability Presentation Transcript

  • Great Lakes Offshore Wind: Protecting the Lakes and Building a New Energy Future?
  • Offshore wind can help reduce the massive societal costs imposed by our reliance on coal Why offshore wind?
  • Why offshore? Opportunity to fill in behind coal with utility scale renewable energy. The Great Lakes states see offshore wind as a major economic development opportunity. RPS POPULATION WIND
  • NYPA RFP for up to 500 MW of offshore wind; put on hold for now Draft bottomlands leasing legislation; development interest from Apex Wind and Bluewater Wind LEEDCo 25 MW pilot project has conditional lease and half of the required permits. Goal to construct pilot project in 2013; build out to 600 MW by 2020 New Governor’s task force on offshore wind; Evanston interested in purchasing 70 MW offshore wind Unfortunate legislative push-back to a poorly sited proposal would ban all offshore renewable energy development and research; not likely to succeed Temporary moratorium on offshore wind development in response to public backlash over poorly sited proposals
  • Key Barriers
    • Cost
      • Pilot stage of industry and no local supply chain = costs in the $0.20+/kwh range for early projects
    • Regulatory uncertainty
      • No existing siting or permitting regime in the Great Lakes = difficulty securing insurance and financing, development delays, unclear path for public engagement, unclear criteria for siting decisions
    • Public/political opinion
      • Without public support, this industry will not get off the ground
  • Path Forward—Siting
    • Ensure that the first projects are sited appropriately to avoid backlash.
      • 5 mile set-back from shore for avian migration
      • Avoid islands/migratory pathways
      • Time construction to avoid spawning periods
      • Work proactively with volunteers and developers to identify and avoid problem areas
  • Path Forward—Siting
    • GL Wind siting project helping to build a comprehensive GIS tool to support good siting decisions
    • Based on Maine OWEGIS system built by University of Maine, with support from the Sewall Company
    • 650+ data layers
      • Physical environment
      • Coastal hazards
      • Environmental impacts & wildlife
      • Cultural & aesthetic features
      • Legal, permitting boundaries
    • Coordinating with existing efforts to add value
  • Path Forward—Siting
    • Obtain information to support good decisions
    • GVSU led collaborative research project
      • Testing and validation of LIDAR wind assessment technology on floating platform
      • Acoustic monitoring for avian and bat populations
      • Data publicly available on the web
  • Path Forward—Permitting
    • Develop state policy on bottomlands leasing and offshore wind permitting
    • Ensure strong public involvement, environmental review
    • Make consistent between states, more efficient in wind development zones
  • Path Forward—Market
    • Support large market development
      • Advance utility, state and/or municipal collaboration on procurement
        • Pooled purchasing spreads increased cost over broad rate base and gets the industry to scale
        • Goal is to have a market for ~3000 MW of offshore wind, which will generate a local supply chain, while spreading the ratepayer impact across a large area
  • Path Forward—Public Opinion
    • Build public and political support
      • Educate communities and decision-makers about environmental, economic benefits
      • Dispel misconceptions
      • Build partnerships with new allies
      • Ensure transparency and broad engagement in decision-making to build trust, public acceptance
  • For more information: Emily Green Sierra Club Great Lakes Program Director 608-257-4994 [email_address]