Massachusetts to open area the size of Rhode Island to offshore wind power

Massachusetts offshore wind power area map
Public Domain BOEM

Potentially doubling US offshore wind capacity

Massachusetts Deval Patrick and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced plans for a new proposed offshore wind power area of more than 742,000 acres, or 1,160 square miles, which would make it about the size of Rhode Island (1,214 sq-miles). This new area, where space would be auctioned in 4 different leases, would nearly double the federal offshore acreage available for large wind energy projects.

© MIT

Secretary Jewell said that the government has learned from the Cape Wind offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound, which faced over a decade of opposition and lawsuits, and have picked a spot farther from the shore that should not be as contentious.

"We put in zones that we believe have both high potential and lower conflict," Jewell said. "But it's going to actually get down to a specific construction plan on a specific site and (an environmental) analysis to determine what people want to do economically and what that impact is going to be.

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The edge of the area would be 12 miles off Martha's Vineyard and 13 miles off Nantucket, but turbines wouldn't be erected there, only farther in the zone, which is significantly farther away than one can see because of the curvature of the Earth. For example, an observer that is 5 feet 7 inches tall can see about 2.9 miles away if there are no obstacles in the way. Even if you were high enough in the air to see 12 miles away, everything there would be incredibly small. Add to that refraction from the air and distortion from humidity, etc. So if the turbines are very tall and the day is very clear, they might be visible, maybe. Probably not.

Of course, that probably won't stop the NIMBY people, but the electricity that we use has to come from somewhere; better from the wind than from carbon buried in the Earth's crust...

BOEM/Public Domain

Via NPR

Tags: Massachusetts | Wind Power

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