As hundreds of delegates and reporters faced a crush at Copenhagen's Bella Center, which was packed to capacity at the start of the final week of climate talks, New York's Mayor Mike Bloomberg took off in a helicopter to survey the world's largest offshore wind farm, the 209 megawatt Horns Rev 2.
Bloomberg -- who may be both the most visionary American public official on energy, and the most energy-intensive -- gushed over the sight of hundreds of turbines, expressed confusion over the oft-heard complaint in the U.S. that wind farms ruin views, and delighted at the possibility that New York could soon crush Denmark in the wind war with its own 700-megawatt endeavor."It's very impressive," Mr. Bloomberg told the New York Times of the Horns Rev 2 as he stood atop a multistory offshore rig amidst the slowly spinning turbines. "It gives you a feeling for what it will be, I hope, off the Long Island shore."
"It's a lot better than buying foreign oil and sending our money over to countries who don't appreciate our values and in many cases are funding terrorists," he said. This was much more preferable to "digging up coal and transporting it and belching pollutants into the air."
In New York, offshore wind proposals have faced a variety of concerns, especially that they would sabotage the view. The Mayor couldn't understand that.
"Would they rather be staring at a coal plant?" he wondered about American wind whiners. "You know, we see a lot of things. We see power lines, we see gas stations, we see trains going by loaded with coal. There's always something to see."
Invoking Olaffur Eliason's "waterfalls" project in New York last year, he compared the turbines to a work of art. "He would do something like this, and we'd all ooh and ahh. And this time it's something of value to us, in addition to pleasing our minds."
New York Plan
Like the Horns Rev farms, the New York plan would place the turbines several miles further offshore than previous proposals. While the project would provide less than 1 percent of the energy needs of the New York area, Rohit Aggarwala, the city's sustainability chief, said that it would be one of many weapons in the city's war on climate change.
That's if it can get built. While the New York project still faces a number of hurdles -- like a number of others across the country, notably the storied Cape Wind project off the coast of Nantucket -- a set of new rules released by the US Dept. of the Interior earlier this year have provided some encouragement. Meanwhile, a new American alliance promises to help companies collaborate and share information on building offshore wind farms.
And if President Obama can come home from Copenhagen with new rules to limit the country's greenhouse gas emissions, thus further incentivizing wind projects like this, maybe Europe's leaders will soon be envying cities like New York.