While offshore wind energy is not the end-all to fossil fuel energy consumption, it is a good start. I'm happy with the decision to allow developers to build a 130-tower 468 MegaWatt producing wind farm in a 25-mile plot of Nantucket Sound.
The $2-billion price tag and ginormous size of this project makes me wonder though why a smaller scale project was not conceived as the first offshore project for the US? This project has elements of Boston's Big Dig, such that the size and price tag of the project are larger than should be handled for a first-of-its-kind project. Weren't we taught to start small, work out the kinks, then gradually get bigger?
Putting that aside, it is great that the United States' is making efforts toward a commitment to alternative energy options. It is hard to believe that it has taken this long for a decision, given that Europe has been developing offshore wind since 1992 and currently has 39 wind farms in 9 different countries consisting of 830 turbines and producing 2063 MW of power. European Wind Energy Association.
As I said before, I am very much in favor of this project for its environmental merits, however, it is important to understand the depth and undertaking of this construction project. I have no intentions of pessimism towards this project, but rather, toshare a different perspective on this project. My reason being that a random comment I heard yesterday in response to Cape Wind's approval was that no fossil fuels would be involved. I almost steamed up as much as I did when I heard someone who bought Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs and, because they use less energy than traditional bulbs, leaves them on all the time. The truth in this project is that erecting 130 four-hundred foot tall towers in a body of water is going to create a bigger carbon footprint than the turbines could ever make up for. I admit that I haven't run any calculations or done any research on this estimate, but my point is that the project does not come without a huge expenditure of resources. These towers will be miles away from civilization in the sound. They will require massive cargo ships, drilling rigs, and cranes to mount the turbines. There will be miles of transmission lines that will lay under the ocean floor to harvest the electricity to the Cape and the Islands. This stuff doesn't come without a carbon footprint! This project will take years to complete, boats will be idling in the ocean day and night creating waste, exhaust, and fumes. Oh and did i mention the energy expenditure in the factories that build the wind turbines and ship them to location.
OK, so we're not going to save the planet by installing an offshore wind farm. But we are taking a step in the right direction and if we can all take a sense of ownership to the steps that we can make in the right direction, then collectively we will make a difference. And if we don't take that step now, it might be too late the next time the bright idea comes to mind. Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind, has supported this project for the last 9 years through political, financial, and public turmoil? NECN Interview. He took a step and stood by it. That is a commitment and passion to a cause that deserves to be commended.