Report Says Wind Power More Viable
Science Matters: A report released yesterday by Oceana, a worldwide group focused on ocean restoration, claims the potential of offshore wind power in the Atlantic is far greater than other energy sources.
The analysis is titled Untapped Wealth: The Potential of Offshore Energy to Deliver Clean, Affordable Energy and Jobs.
Savitz: We found that developing offshore wind instead of offshore oil will get us more energy for less money and create more jobs; it's also guaranteed never to spill, blow out or even run out.
Jackie Savitz is Oceana’s Senior Director of Pollution Campaigns and author of the report. According to the analysis, she says, the energy produced by wind power could generate 30% more electricity than recoverable offshore oil or gas.
Savitz: What we did was we estimated the area off the coast of all of the states on the Atlantic Coast, based on how deep they were and how far they were from shore and how much wind they have, and then we estimated how much wind energy could be generated in each state.
Virginia, Oceana believes, could supply 83% of its current electricity needs.
Savitz: We add it all together so we can see how much there is in the Atlantic, and then we compare that to how much oil and gas there is in the Atlantic. There's actually more offshore wind energy than there is oil and gas.
The clean energy alternative, she said, makes economic sense.
Savitz: What we found was that developing the wind versus the oil and gas would save about 36 billion dollars, and part of that is because the oil and gas is not that much on the Atlantic Coast, and we, of course, we have to build that infrastructure to support it. But what we also found is that if you try to do all of the above, wind and oil actually compete with each other; they want some of the same investments, similar parts, installation vessels and even maritime expertise, and what that means is the increased demand increases the price of all those things and ultimately, increases the price of developing the resource and the time it takes to do it.
What’s needed, Savitz said, is a change in priotities, investment in the energy source most likely to produce sustainable results, wind. None of the potential energy sources could produce in the immediate future.
Savitz: The truth is, neither of them are available immediately; that's why we have to start developing clean energy now if we hope to have it, say, five or ten years from now.
Developing wind power, Oceana maintains, will also create jobs.
Savitz: Wind energy would create about three times more jobs than the offshore oil and gas, and again, many of those jobs would continue into the future where offshore oil and gas won’t, necessarily.
In addition, she said:
Savitz: We need to develop a manufacturing base for clean energy and offshore wind in this country; we don't make offshore wind turbines and, as of now, we would have to import them from places like Germany or even China. And so it's very important that we not only develop the energy, but we also develop a manufacturing base on the east coast, possibly even in Virginia, for parts, for installation vessels that we need to convert more vessels so that we can install wind power, and all that creates jobs as well.
The analysis came up with a wind power potential.
Savitz: We determined that you could produce about 127 gigawatts of wind on the Atlantic Coast, and of that, about 16 of those gigawatts would come from Virginia. We used a lot of conservative assumptions for wind, so that we make sure we sort of give ourselves a little bit of anti-wind bias, and that makes the numbers, I think, even more impressive.
Oil and gas lobbies, she acknowledged, are well connected in government, but:
Savitz: In general, the public is very supportive of clean energy, so I don't think we're aligning ourselves with any party necessarily; I think what we're trying to do is bring the public interest to the fore so that our policy makers can represent us effectively.
The report can be found online at Oceana.org.
John Ogle, WCVE News