By Karl Grossman
“You have to think big in today’s world,” said William Moore, chief executive officer of Deepwater Wind. The company is poised to do “some path-breaking things” in harvesting wind power east and south of Long Island. Deepwater Wind intends to construct offshore wind farms—each consisting of as many as 200 six-megawatt wind turbines—in coming years.
In 2015 it plans to begin construction of one wind farm in waters starting 30 miles east of Montauk, south of Rhode Island. In 2018, in waters 20 to 40 miles south of western Long Island, off New Jersey, it hopes to embark on building a second wind farm.
Mr. Moore, who has been called the “Johnny Appleseed of Wind,” has demonstrated that when it comes to wind power, he not only thinks big but his ideas can become reality. An article in the environmental magazine “Onearth” tells of how “Moore, a broad-shouldered Yale man” with “a passion for renewable energy” who “owned a company, Atlantic Renewable” came to Lewis County, New York in 1999. By 2007, 200 wind turbines stretched “as far as the eye can see” in that upstate county in what became “the nation’s largest new alternative energy project east of the Mississippi.”
In recent years, Mr. Moore has been focusing on offshore wind along the Northeast coast. “We have good wind here,” he was saying last week from the headquarters of Deepwater Wind in Providence, Rhode Island, “and lots of customers.”
Earlier this year, Mr. Moore addressed Long Island Metro Business Action on Deepwater Wind’s plans. Afterwards, Ernest Fazio, the organization’s chairman and its energy specialist, said they are “completely within the realm of the possible.”
Deepwater Wind is to put its wind turbines far out to sea avoiding the aesthetic objections the Long Island Power Authority faced when it advanced a scheme several years ago for wind turbines off Jones Beach. Deepwater Wind’s turbines would mainly be 20 to 25 miles off-shore. They’d be in water 80 to 150 feet deep and this, says Mr. Moore, won’t constitute a problem because they’ll be on platforms similar to those used by offshore oil rigs, he said. As for storms, they’ll be able to withstand 150 mile-an-hour winds.
At six megawatts, they’ll have nearly twice the capacity of the turbines LIPA sought. This provides for economies of scale—“fewer turbines to install and fewer structures,” he said.
There is to be “integrated” multi-state distribution systems. The wind farm to Long Island’s east would serve the island along with Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. The cable sending electricity to Long Island would come in at Shoreham. The wind farm to Long Island’s south would serve it and other areas of downstate New York and New Jersey.
“Deepwater Wind believes that gaining energy independence is both a national priority and a practical, achievable goal,” the company says on its website. “The winds off our eastern seaboard are strong, unlimited, and reliable, and can be harnessed using today’s proven technology…We are developing utility-scale wind farms in deep water that will provide abundant clean energy.” As for financial backing, it speaks of investors with “more than $20 billion in assets.” Wind power, comments Mr. Moore, will “significantly reduce our need to burn fossil fuels, improve local air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions—problems that are especially acute in the densely populated Northeast.” And the cost will be “competitive” to other sources of electricity.
Wind power is booming worldwide. A record of 41,000 megawatts of new wind electric-generating capacity came on line last year, according to the Earth Policy Institute. That brought the world wind energy total to 238,000 megawatts. China, interestingly, “led all countries in annual wind power gains for the third straight year,” reported the Washington-based group. China installed 18,000 and the U.S. 6,800 megawatts of new wind capacity in 2011.
And although the “vast majority of wind turbines operating today are on land…offshore wind development is ramping up…Almost all of it in Europe, offshore wind generating capacity has grown fivefold since 2006.”
“With its long list of attractive attributes—widespread and abundant…climate-benign, and zero fuel cost—wind power is driving the transition to a new energy economy,” said Earth Policy Institute. If Deepwater Wind is successful, by this decade’s end, that safe, clean, renewable energy future will be blowing—in a large-scale way—in the winds off Long Island.