Offshore Wind Power for Humboldt County. Pie in the Sky or Pie?
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The University of Maine and partners including Iberdrola SA (IBE) and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. plan to launch the first U.S. offshore wind turbine today in a pilot project that will help design a $96 million, 12-megawatt floating power system.
The 65-foot (20 meter) tower and blades will be towed to a site off the coast of Castine, about 35 miles south of Bangor, Maine, and is expected to be connected to the Central Maine Power Co. grid on June 2, Elizabeth Viselli, a university spokeswoman, said today in an interview. The VolturnUS system has 20 kilowatts of capacity and is one-eighth the scale of turbines that are expected to be deployed in 2016, she said.
VolturnUS is one of two floating offshore wind projects that Maine is planning with funding from the Energy Department to supply as much as 24 megawatts of capacity in 2016. Their goal is to reduce the cost of offshore wind to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020.
Statoil ASA (STL), Norway’s state-controlled oil company, in January received approval from the Maine Public Utilities Commission to build a $120 million offshore wind farm. The deepwater demonstration facility in the Gulf of Maine will use four, 3-megawatt floating turbines.
Humboldt Empowerment Project
GOAL: Electrical energy self sufficiency (independence) for Humboldt County using a renewable source within five years.
MEANS: A wind turbine farm placed in a ten mile square at sea twenty miles offshore on floating barge platforms with the electricity collected onshore in one or more stations.. On 500′ centers this will comprise +/- 11,100 turbines.
ECONOMIC NOTES: Turbines and barges to be assembled locally in Humboldt County. This project should result in 500 or more local good paying jobs for welders, assemblers and mariners. If production starts in one year, we need to produce 10 barges per day to complete the project in 5 years.
ENGINEERING NOTES: Barges should be plug and play, towed out to sea for production and towed to port for maintenance. Barges, power transmission and anchors should be engineered to survive a 10,000 year tsunami.
ENVIRONMENTAL NOTES: Possible effect on seabirds. Possible effect on fish and marine mammals. Wind power production at this scale may alter global wind patterns. Possible conflict with marine shipping routes and fishing zones.
BENEFITS: Bountiful electric supply for Humboldt produced locally with a small carbon load, a boost to the local economy through cheaper power and good jobs, and a power plant that is very secure against disaster or attack. Humboldt County will be a world pioneer in wind power energy production.