Report details potential and challenges of developing wind power

On a day that 40-mile-per-hour winds gusted in Wilmington, supporters of wind power had their focus offshore, and on developments in Washington.

The National Wildlife Federation and Environment America released a report Wednesday highlighting the region’s potential for the development of offshore wind farms.  At the same time, they urged the Obama administration to streamline the permit process and to focus tax incentives on offshore wind, not offshore drilling.

“By harnessing the vast, untapped wind resources off our coast, we can create local good-paying jobs, help fight climate change, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Environment America Federal Field Associate Hamna Mela.

The study indicates that 4.5 gigawatts of wind power could be harnessed in relatively shallow water in Delaware, taking into account “environmental and socioeconomic factors.”

NRG Bluewater Wind is proposing to build a wind farm to harness offshore wind 13 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, and has a purchase agreement with Delmarva Power.  The initial project is for at least 60 turbines.

Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara said such projects also have great potential in creating jobs, and to have parts made here instead of overseas.  He said Delaware is working with partners in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and other Atlantic states “to make sure we’re seizing the environmental benefits and the economic benefits as well.”

The University of Delaware has been involved in offshore wind research for several years.  The UD Marine Studies campus in Lewes is powered with wind energy. 

“Our University of Delaware opinion surveys suggest that the public wants transformative offshore wind energy policies,” said Associate Professor Jeremy Firestone. 

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