Courtesy Less Salty
LEEDCo is leading efforts to build, install, and deploy an offshore wind farm on Lake Erie. An initial five wind generators (20-megawatts, enough to power 16,000 homes) are to be located near Cleveland, Ohio, with a 2012 completion target. The expected cost is projected to be $100 million.
The 20 MW venture is just the initial phase. If the test phase is successful, LEEDCo would like to see the Lake Erie wind farm generating up to 1000 MW of energy by 2020. ConsumerEnergyReport
LEEDCo recently announced a long-term partnership with GE who will provide the 5 direct-drive wind turbines for LEEDCo’s 20-megawatt offshore wind project.
Many hoops and hurdles need to be traversed before obtaining major financial commitments. (learn more at Cleveland.com
Approval from at least 16 federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. LEEDCo has yet to file any permit applications but does meet weekly with an interagency task force, the Lake Erie Offshore Wind Team, that Strickland created 18 months ago. Concerns that the turbines will harm birds and bats. A $350,000 study is under way, including radar, laser and acoustic identification of bird and bat flight paths. The proposed site will need a four-mile radius of air space in which few if any birds have been detected. How to anchor the towers in Lake Erie. Engineers must determine whether to sink steel piles down to bedrock, typically some 60 to 80 feet below the "glacial till" on the lake bottom. If pilings are needed, officials are uncertain whether the region still has the capacity to produce enough of the heavy steel that would be required. A way to get the power to shore. Underwater cables from the turbines to shore would need right-of-way approval from the state. The impact of winter ice. Plans call for an ice cream-cone shaped foundation at the water's level, which forces the ice down and breaks it, hopefully saving on cost, LEEDCo's Wagner said. A means of paying for the project. Financing details are still tenuous -- and could be more complicated than the engineering, said Wagner.
Courtesy U. S. Dept. of Energy
About a year ago I wrote about our need for a national energy grid. Many politicians are moving to block the lines because they hurt their local economies or because of environmental local impacts. Others claim more local improvements would be better and less costly. Read more in Technology Review's, "A Costly and Unnecessary New Electricity Grid".
A new national grid, which has been likened to the Interstate Highway System constructed in the 1950s, has been proposed by groups such as the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank, and AEP, a large utility; elements of the plans have been included in recent federal legislation.
Last week, investor T. Boone Pickens said that he's halting his planned four-gigawatt wind farm in Texas in part because of a lack of transmission lines to carry the power from the farm to urban centers.
If you have 20 minutes or so, Center for American Progress has several complete primers on the issue:
Last Tuesday, General Electric showed utility industry executives how their new appliances could reduce electric demand and save everyone money. Read about it in Are consumers ready for the smart grid?