Jul 21 2011

How the times have changed for wind energy

Published by under Student blog entries

Wind Power Map 1

Wind energy is not a new thing in the US or in North Carolina. A look at the history of wind energy in North Carolina specifically, demonstrates that before there existed an infrastructure to distribute goods or energy, people made a specific choice. Using the waterways to move grain to coastal locations where wind energy was reliably available and then improve their grain into more refined flour. With the coming of railroads, Macadamized roads and electricity, North Carolinians moved away from the use of waterways and wind energy. Today North Carolinians face a choice of continuing to import energy and burn coal for the majority of electrical power or seek alternatives.

The United States has no offshore wind energy generating capacity (US DoE). There is however a large amount, 20,000 MW, of offshore wind energy  installed or planned in European waters (EWEA). Where conditions between potential US and European sites are similar valid conclusions could be draw from the already operating and installed capacity. Therefore, it will be critical to perform environmental impact assessments offshore of potential US wind energy generating sites that do not match the European conditions. The logical first step is to conduct experiments in constructing large offshore wind energy devices. This is critical to evaluate the portion of the project with the greatest environmental impact with respect to time and to build a body of knowledge that could reduce the overall impact of future construction.

Research into offshore wind energy production should be conducted in a way so that its results are available in the public domain. Careful attention should be paid to already existing expertise in constructing offshore wing energy projects in European waters. Site selection will seek a location that does not match a European project and has potential for both commercially viable offshore wind energy and similarity to other sites in US waters. The research will collect a knowledge base and seek to reduce construction impact through a reduction in both onshore staging and total time spent offshore in construction.

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