UD researchers press for more U.S. offshore wind development
University of Delaware wind energy expert Jeremy Firestone says we have a lot to gain from offshore wind.
“You’ll bring in fuel diversity, so right now in Delaware, we’re highly dependent on natural gas and you don’t want to have your eggs all in one basket," said Firestone.
Offshore wind can also help us especially on harsh winter days. Having access to electricity generated from wind turbines in addition to natural gas would drive down power costs.
But aside from the Deepwater Wind project off the coast of Rhode Island, the U.S. has no commercial-sized offshore wind parks.
In a recent op-ed piece published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Firestone and his colleagues discussed the factors that have hindered offshore wind in the U.S., compared to Europe.
"You can’t get a project built unless you have a contract or a contract-like mechanism that shows you’re going to have a stream of revenue over a period of years," said Firestone.
They argued that competition for offshore wind project contracts should move from developers to states. They also stressed a need to change tax policies to favor offshore wind and a need to put more dollars towards research to understand the impacts commercial-sized turbines have on the surrounding environment.
Delaware is located in a zone researchers call the Mid-Atlantic Bight -- where there are favorable and predictable winds ideal for installing an offshore wind park. The paper notes that building turbines in this area could potentially power all electricity needs in the U.S.
Delmarva Power and NRG Bluewater had once planned to build one off the coast of Delaware in 2008. However, NRG Bluewater terminated its contract with Delmarva in 2011 when it had difficulty finding needed investment partners.