Google’s OCS Energy Investment
The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) is a project to build an electricity transmission backbone for wind farms on the mid-Atlantic outer continental shelf. As AWC explains, the OCS’s “shallow waters, which extend miles out to sea, allow for the development of large, distant wind farms, mitigating visibility issues and allowing for greater energy capture from stronger winds.”
AWC notes that without “a transmission backbone, offshore wind developers would be forced to bring energy to land via radial lines that can make balancing the region’s existing grid more difficult. In addition, a single offshore backbone with a limited number of landfall points will minimize the environmental impacts of building multiple individual radial lines to shore.”
Google has taken a 37.5% stake in the AWC project which expects to connect the East Coast to 6,000 MW of offshore energy.
With respect to regulatory hurdles, AWC has noted that in order to begin construction they “will need approval from federal, state, regional and local regulators as well as from PJM, the region’s grid operator.”
Click here to see AWC website
Click here to see Federal-State MoU to create an Atlantic Offshore Wind Consortium
Unless Google and the greater Atlantic Wind Connection take a NEPA-sufficient “hard look” at the findings of ocean meteorologists examining the environmental impacts of ten years of European ocean windfarming on ocean currents and water column structure, then they may find themselves in legal broils over sufficiency of their NEPA reviews that may delay things through lengthy EISs, SEISs’ and worse.
What is it that researchers Goram Brostrom of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Wang and Prinn of MIT, Kirk-Davidoff of University of Maryland, and many other oceanographers are starting to understand? Brostrom is a good start: http://tinyurl.com/brostrom-wind
It is that indeed there is an effect on the marine chain of being from continuously removing those megawatts of energy, via anchored or piled turbines. The flow of nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and the larvae of fish, shellfish and crustaceans from the winds of the near-surface atmosphere,
Impacts of different magnitudes: (1) within the water column “footprint” of individual offshore windfarms,(2) Cumulative impact of the combined footprints of the seeming stampede of offshore wind applicants.
Their emerging consensus is that yes, of course, continuously diverting gigawatts of energy away from its natural transferral process into ocean water via Ekman Transport has an impact. An impact that is expressible in numbers.
What the Ivory Windtower is in disagreement about is how significant these alterations are. How offshore wind parks, singly and in Atlantic Wind Connection’s great wind armada, will affect currents and the thermal and nutrient composition of the oceanic water column in the affected area.
There is no surer way to weaken a marine ecosystem than by reducing reproductive sucess of its keystone species.
With more than 75% of the Mid Atlantic Bight’s wild biomass spending some of its life floating helplessly on water currents that in a normal world transports them hundreds or thousands of miles from spawning place to their final home waters – at the same time as their prey species. And as their prey species’ food.
Putting any of that in disarray can mean ruination for scallops, blue crabs or quahogs, for if one throws up enough of these sudden roadblocks on the ocean highway, enough of their larvae can be diverted and lost to reduce regional abundances of these important animals.
Humanity sails upon the sea, feeds from it and dumps wastes into it, but until now we have never set out to deploy systems that could actually create divert and delay the ocean currents themselves from inshore coastal currents to the Gulf Stream, as an inescapable byproduct of power production.
Thanks to its investment commitment to the AWC, Google has an opportunity to shape the preliminary sitings of these offshore windfarms – singly and in relation to each other – so that they do not interfere with the great ecological engines, there at the air/sea interface.
More details: https://www.penbay.org
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