Wind Energy Event Talks Up Offshore Power In Great Lakes
Date: Thursday, March 05, 2009 @ 08:45:54 MST
Topic: Energy News

Wednesday, 04 March 2009
By Matt Roush

The Michigan Wind Energy Conference wrapped up at Cobo Center Wednesday with a look at offshore wind projects in the United Kingdom and their potential in Michigan, along with breakout sessions on small and community windpower projects.

Chris Jenner and Johnny Lewis of England's RPS Energy offered a comprehensive overview of their company's work on offshore wind power in Europe, specifically the United Kingdom, covering the challenges and successes of the technology.

Peter Mandelstam, founder and president of Bluewater Wind LLC of Delaware, gave a detailed presentation on the potential of offshore wind in the United States, including the Great Lakes.

"Offshore wind is the next wave -- lots of puns, folks, I warn you," Mandelstam began, adding that "the Northeast and the Great Lakes are natural markets."

"Offshore wind is the next wave -- lots of puns, folks, I warn you," Mandelstam began, adding that "the Northeast and the Great Lakes are natural markets."

Why? Because they offer stronger and more consistent winds than other shoreline areas, relatively shallow water depths even miles offshore, no significant water use conflicts, accessible transmission and ports, large available project area footprints, and little opposition from the public if the turbines are built more than 10 miles from shore (which makes them too small to see from the beach, for the most part).

Mandelstam said offshore wind power is a "great green job generator."

He said state and federal regulations, the reality of peak oil production nearing and climate change considerations are all forcing a move toward wind power.

Mandelstam also said those who don't think a carbon tax will happen should beware -- buried deep in the Obama Administration's budgets is the assumption of a $20-a-ton carbon tax by 2015.

Mandelstam said his company's current project off Delaware, Maryland and Virginia will create 500 construction jobs and 80 to 100 permanent operation and maintenance jobs, as well as a $1.6 billion investment.

During the question and answer session, he said there won't be a choice between onshore and offshore wind power -- we'll do both. And he also said the recent economic collapse has shown that neither economic extreme -- complete lassiez-faire and socialism -- works.

After the speeches, the throng broke up into small groups and I headed for the exhibit displays.

Tim Krauss of Fraser's Enmark Tool & Gage Co. Inc. told me he was at the conference looking for work for his company building components for wind generators. A machined part is a machined part, after all.

Bob Brown of Martin-based Bauer Power Inc. showed off a seven-foot circular wind turbine that generates 1,200 watts, intended for rooftop installation on commerical and industrial buildings. Also in display was a 140-watt solar array about the size of a dining room table. Neither is  currently cost-competitive with power from the grid, but Brown said they represent "hedging your bets" against future price increases.

Peter Klein, associate dean at Macomb Community College, said he's talking with the industry in an attempt to tailor the school's renewable energy classes to meet industry needs. Every renewable class the school adds quickly fills up, he said.

Finally, I spoke to Mike Hess, co-founder and CEO of Mariah Power, which hopes to put 120 people to work by the end of the year in the Manistee area, building the company's unique vertical-axis wind generators.

This article comes from Michigan GREEN

The URL for this story is: