Saturday, May 01, 2010

New Jersey Offshore Wind Farm Study Moves Forward

New Jersey's offshore wind power project wont happen for at least another two years, because we first need a 2-year study to tell us whether it is even feasible to do this project and whether it would adversely affect the local ecology.
It is the beginning of a two-year wind and whale study for what may end up being the nation’s first offshore wind farm, where pylon-mounted turbines perched high above the waves, driven by huge, aerodynamic blades spinning freely to catch the wind, are expected to generate enough power one day to light up thousands of homes.

New Jersey is in a race to have the first offshore wind-generated power project, and the state just might beat Massachusetts, where U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week announced the approval of a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. That project, under review for nine years, continues to be threatened by lawsuits.

The issue has taken on renewed urgency as the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which threatens wildlife and beaches along the Louisiana and Florida coastline, has dampened enthusiasm for offshore drilling. On Friday, a group of New Jersey lawmakers called for a moratorium on oil exploration off parts of the Atlantic Coast, and urged the federal government to speed up the permitting process for offshore wind farms.

The shore of the Garden State slopes to a shallow continental sea shelf — perfect for locating turbines — and at least four sites are under study. Three are in federal waters as far as 20 miles from shore. A fourth, the focus of the research being conducted out of Atlantic City, is in state waters much closer to land.

The technology of harnessing energy from the wind harkens back to the iconic windmills of Holland, updated by modern materials. Conical towers are typically anchored to the seabed, rising above the ocean, where a nacelle on top houses a generator spun by helicopter-like rotors. The electricity produced is then brought ashore through underwater cables to land-based substations for distribution.

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