Study of Maryland demonstrates Mid-Atlantic offshore wind capacity

Jan 30, 2012 By Teresa Messmore
Offshore wind farms could generate more than enough energy to meet Maryland's annual electricity consumption, according to a UD study.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Offshore wind farms could generate more than enough energy to meet Maryland’s annual electricity consumption, according to a just-published study by researchers at the University of Delaware. The potential power output is nearly double current energy demands for the state, even when taking into account various limitations on where to place equipment in the Atlantic.

“Installing wind turbines far off the coast of Maryland would help the state generate large quantities of electricity while creating local jobs,” said study co-author Willett Kempton, professor of marine policy in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE). “Producing more electricity this way also displaces fossil fuel generation, thus reducing harmful carbon dioxide emissions and improving air quality.”

Existing Maryland law requires 18 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2022. The law was passed before the potential supply of offshore wind was documented—no one even knew whether offshore wind was of significant size.

Offshore wind could be important to meeting Maryland’s requirement because it is more abundant and more steady than land-based Maryland wind, and is less expensive than solar power.

“If the offshore resource remains unused, meeting the state’s renewable energy requirement will be more costly to Maryland, as is true for the other mid-Atlantic coastal states,” Kempton noted.

The study found that a maximum of 7,800 wind turbines could provide an annual average output of 14,000 megawatts, equivalent to 189 percent of Maryland’s electric load. The calculation includes the use of new technology for deep-water turbines, but even using only commercially proven, shallow-water equipment, the energy generated would total 70 percent of the state’s annual demand. This is the maximum resource possible, but actual development of offshore wind would start with power plant-sized units of 80 to 150 turbines.

In determining areas of the ocean suitable for offshore wind farm development, the researchers excluded zones of possible conflict. The entire Chesapeake Bay was excluded.  Fish havens and areas where birds migrate were not counted, as well as shipping routes.

The study also considered how visible the turbines would be from shore, placing the turbines eight nautical miles away so that visual impact would be minimal.

Along with the rest of the mid-Atlantic region, large shallow areas and strong winds off Maryland’s coast make it suitable for currently available offshore windmill technology.

The study found that average power output would be highest in the winter and lowest in the summer. Extra power generated during the winter months could service neighboring states, while Maryland would need to rely on other sources during a comparative shortage in the summer. Developers could position windmills to capitalize on seasonal wind direction, such as to the southwest for summer winds.

The findings were recently published in the Elsevier journal Renewable

Explore further: First of four Fukushima reactors cleared of nuclear fuel

More information: More information on offshore wind is available at this CEOE website.

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User comments : 7

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baruchatta
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2012
"...average power output would be highest in the winter and lowest in the summer..."
Combine this with SOLAR PANELS on homes, which have highest power output in the Summer, and ALL POWER NEEDS in Maryland could be from renewable sources - IF WE WANT TO DO IT!!!!
snelson5871
3 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2012
"Combine this with SOLAR PANELS on homes, which have highest power output in the Summer, and ALL POWER NEEDS in Maryland could be from renewable sources - IF WE WANT TO DO IT!!!!"

but who's pocket will it come from? going green could be done very shortly if people wanted to spend the money on it
deatopmg
1 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2012
what are the unintended consequences of slowing so much wind? What if all the east coast states did this?
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2012
Wind farms don't necessarily slow the wind, they can remove it. When energy is taken from wind, it is energy of motion. Much of that can be seen in stagnant air. The crucial environmental mediating effects of wind are removed downwind of such farms, from transporting seeds to distributing dust and sand to affecting temperature. It's extremely dangerous to ignore the potential effects this could have on the environment.
julianpenrod
1 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2012
Again, if someone really wanted a reliable source of significant amounts of energy without tapping oil, one thing they could do is simply equip a house with a single manually cranked generator. Pumped rather than run by the deliberately mocked bicycle contrivance, fitted with a huge flywheel to store energy and feeding a raft of no more than 25 car type batteries, a significant lifestyle even more comfortable than one working by sunlight could be easily maintained. The failure make a move in this direction is evidsence of a wholesale disinterest in the corporations of actually pursuing such an "independent" America.
fmfbrestel
1 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2012
Nothing I like more than nit-picking the sh!t out of articles, so i was actually happy when i read:
The law was passed before the potential supply of offshore wind was documentedno one even knew whether offshore wind was of significant size.


No, it was not documented. But no one knew whether offshore wind significant? What, Maine is fresh out of fishermen or something? I think it was a pretty safe bet that the study would come out looking good.
cdt
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2012
one thing they could do is simply equip a house with a single manually cranked generator.

Better yet, we could equip every house with a water wheel along with a string of buckets on a rope pulley system to haul water to the top of the wheel to get the wheel to turn. Then hook this water wheel up to a personal 1 megawatt generator and one small neighborhood can power the world.

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