Nation’s first offshore wind farm spurs call for Georgia to follow suit

By David Pendered

The first offshore wind farm in the U.S. began operations Monday off Rhode Island, prompting the advocacy group Environment Georgia to call Tuesday for Georgia to move ahead with offshore wind farms.

“America’s first offshore wind farm should be a wake-up call for Georgia,” Jennette Gayer, director of Environment Georgia, said in an email.

Rhode Island wind farm

The first offshore windfarm in the U.S. began production Monday, weeks in advance of the supportive Obama adminstration and the incoming Trump administration, which is viewed as less supportive of wind farms. Credit: subseaworldnews.com

“We’ve got more than a power plant worth of wind blowing off our coast and a shallow continental shelf that could make a wind farm easy to install,” Gayer said. “I hope Gov. Deal and other state leaders heed this wake-up call and start aggressively pursuing offshore wind in Georgia.”

Researchers with Georgia Power’s parent, Southern Co., and Georgia Tech have been investigating the potential of wind power since 2005, according to a report on Georgia Power’s website.

Results weren’t good, according to Georgia Power. Winds off the Georgia coast are strong enough to support a land-based operation, blowing 16 to 17 mph. However, these velocities are not high enough to, “overcome higher construction and operational costs” of an offshore installation.

Consequently, Georgia Power opted to buy 250 megawatts of wind energy from wind farms in southwest Oklahoma, with delivery scheduled to have started this year, according to Georgia Power’s statement.

However, research into the potential of wind power continues along Georgia’s coast. The Georgia Power page reports that Southern Co. and Georgia Power have signed a lease at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, which will host four small turbines and a meteorological tower for two years.

wind energy potential energy

A federal report issued this year underscored the potential for offshore wind farms along most of the U.S. coastline. Credit: energy.gov

The Block Island Wind Farm consists of five turbines. It is located 13 miles off the coast of mainland Rhode Island and east of Long Island, New York, according to a statement from Environment Georgia.

The Rhode Island wind farm secured $290 million in financing for the first five turbines in what could be built out as a 200-turbine installation, according to a report by cio.com. A 21-mile submarine cable is to deliver the electricity from the wind farm to the mainland electrical grid.

The turbines are described as “towering” and visible from the Block Island coast, located three miles fro the wind farm, according to a report by The Christian Science Monitor, which went on to say:

  • “Higher costs, harsh waters, concern for local ecosystems, and the desire to preserve scenic ocean views have kept the U.S. offshore industry in relative infancy compared with onshore” and with Europe.”

There was a time when solar power was dismissed.

rhode island wind farm, renderingYet Georgia Power now plans to provide 525 MW of additional renewable generation to the company’s portfolio. This is in addition to the 655 MW of utility scale solar power that was to be procured under power purchase agreements, according to Georgia Power’s reports earlier this year.

Of course, the entire issue of alternative sources of energy is up in the air in the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

The report by csmonitor.com observes:

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

5 replies
  1. Burroughston Broch says:

    Looking at the map, the capacity factor is low off the Georgia cost compared to locations farther north, making Georgia wind energy more expensive.
    Large offshore wind turbines are often 145 meters tall. To make them not visible from the coast, they would have to be about 30 miles offshore. This distance would also increase the cost.Report

    Reply
  2. InfraredGuy says:

    Off shore wind turbines are twice as expensive to buy and to maintain as land based turbines plus they must withstand hurricane winds to 125 MPH which the blades won’t couple all that with the salt corrosion and its CRAZY and Environmental Georgia is loony, The Power Company knows this as wellReport

    Reply

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