Blow Hard: Off-Shore Wind Farms

Yesterday, The New York Times ran a story on off-shore wind farms—and the fact that the U.S. seems to be lagging behind the rest of the world in using this technology. 

The U.S. is still waiting for its first off-shore wind farm, while China and many European nations move forward. The Atlantic Coast will be the front line of this issue—Cape Wind, a proposed project off the coast of Massachusetts, is awaiting approval.

The debate seems to have produced some strange bedfellows—major environmental groups (Greenpeace, the Sierra Club) have come out in support of this alternative energy technology, while coastal conservation groups and fisherman are worried. There are also cost issues—off-shore projects are significantly more expensive than land-based ones:

Despite the upfront costs, proponents say offshore wind power is worth it if it can reduce the reliance on carbon-intensive sources of electricity like coal.

“People should be cautious of thinking that protecting the viewshed protects the place,” said Kert Davies, a research director with Greenpeace who has closely watched the Cape Wind venture. “The truth is that every model shows that the cape and islands and Nantucket are going to be drastically different places if climate change continues apace.”