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Offshore wind in Great Lakes could be small potatoes compared to this

The world’s largest offshore wind farm is 100 turbines off the coast of Great Britain.
via Flickr
The world’s largest offshore wind farm is 100 turbines off the coast of Great Britain.

Imagine a string of hundreds of wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean running from southern Virginia to just outside New York City.

That’s what Google, American, and Japanese investment firms envision with today’s agreement to invest $5 billion in infrastructure that could allow the turbines to go up.

Nothing like this has been attempted before. Pulling it off will require a lot of people figuring out a lot of things. Currently the largest offshore farm is 100 or so turbines(see photo above).

More than 1.9 million homes could be powered by hundreds of turbines built in the Atlantic. That’s like wiping the population of Houston off the power grid.

But what about hurricanes? Those are some strong winds to harness, for sure, but could they injure a turbine? Engineering these turbines would take this in account, according to … who?. But like we saw with Ryan Morden’s report on the mystery of the falling turbine, sometimes these things fall over with no real explanation.

The turbines would not be visible from the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, according to the New York Times report.  That’s the goal, anyway -nothing concrete has been planned yet.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this announcement is the enthusiasm from environmental groups. From the same NY Times article:

Environmentalists who have been briefed on the plan were enthusiastic. Melinda Pierce, the deputy director for national campaigns at the Sierra Club, said she had campaigned against proposed transmission lines that would carry coal-fired energy around the country, but would favor this one, with its promise of tapping the potential of offshore wind.

With this announcement, it’s clear some people are willing to put up some big money for something they think will work someday. Since that’s the case, wouldn’t this make proposed offshore projects in Lake Erie seem more plausible? With a lack of hurricanes in the Great Lakes, offshore Buffalo projects would not face the same kind of weather risks.

Friday I will be speaking with theBuffalo Wind Action Group, a non-profit advocacy organization. I will ask them to illuminate where the Buffalo/ Niagara region is going with its wind future. I will also ask them to critique the reporting for our “Reinventing the Windmill” series.  Look out for selections from that interview on early next week. 

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.