Jim Gordon writes about Cape Wind for WBUR website series on climate change
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
On WBUR's website series on Climate Change, three people including Cape Wind President Jim Gordon were invited to submit essays on how renewable energy can help fight climate change. Here Jim writes about how Cape Wind can help kickstart the U.S. offshore wind industry and help Massachusetts have a clean energy future:
Over the years many have said that New England is at the end of the energy pipeline. In other words, that we have no indigenous energy resources. We now know that is false. We have very substantial wind energy resources — in the mountains of northern and western New England, and offshore, near the population centers of southern New England.
We had a vision for Cape Wind because we wanted to demonstrate you could produce significant amounts of electricity, displace a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, create new green jobs, and start a pioneering effort to get people thinking about this offshore wind resource that we have. So we decided to develop America’s first offshore wind farm.
Offshore wind farms began in Europe in 1991. Today there are 55 operating offshore wind farms in Europe, with many more planned. The peak production from offshore wind in the North Sea will soon exceed the peak production of North Sea oil in the U.K. The construction and operation of all these wind farms has created thousands of jobs.
At our first public hearing, we explained that with 17 state and federal agencies looking at every aspect of our proposal to build 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, the regulatory process would take at least two to three years. As is well known, we ran into a determined and well-funded opposition. As a result, Cape Wind — a major energy project which produces zero pollutant emissions, zero greenhouse gas emissions, consumes zero water and produces zero waste — has now generated hundreds of thousands of pages of exhibits, testimonies, comments, and social, economic and environmental reports.
By contrast, the environmental assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil well was 17 pages long, and it took about 60 days to win approval.
It’s taken 10 years, but Cape Wind finally has all its permits. Although it was a tedious process, we’ve now signed the first offshore wind lease in U.S. history with the Secretary of the Interior. Banks are lining up to finance the project. We hope to begin construction later this year, and to begin generating power in 2015.
Offshore wind holds incredible promise for the U.S. — not only in increasing our energy security and independence, and in improving our health and environment, but also by contributing significantly to mitigating climate change. About four years ago, the Natural Resources Defense Council called Cape Wind the largest single greenhouse gas reduction initiative in the United States. When fully operational, we will offset over 800,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Unlike land-based wind farms, which produce most of their power at night, offshore wind produces its electricity coincident with the peak demand — on the hottest and the coldest days of the year. That means the power our turbines generate can go directly into the grid and be used, while lowering the demand for fossil fuels when electricity is most expensive.
Here in New England, we need to develop about 6,000 megawatts of new, cleaner power sources to replace obsolete (and dirty) coal and oil plants. By taking advantage of our abundant wind energy resources, and by using natural gas more efficiently, we’ll be able to avoid the cost of building expensive new pipelines to import natural gas from Appalachia and Canada.
Maybe we can go back to the days when New England actually produced its own energy, and was a lot better off for it.
Link to WBUR's webpage: http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/2013/04/02/climate-renewable-energy-watson-milford-gordon