Energy Central Professional


Offshore wind practical, will weather storms

Elissa Campanella Hammonton  


    Recently a gentleman from Hammonton wrote that future hurricanes would destroy the proposed offshore wind turbines, sending the wreckage onto the Jersey Shore. Instead, he recommended relying on nuclear energy for our clean energy needs. I respectfully disagree with the likelihood of either proposition.

    In order to obtain approvals for offshore wind projects, developers' plans undergo stringent reviews by the federal government. All structures must comply with structural standards based on locational ocean and meteorological conditions. For current projects, the Bureau of Energy Management requires that these structures be engineered to remain operational up to a category 3 storm and that they withstand impact of a category 4-5 storm.

    The possibility of relying instead on nuclear power is also unlikely. The newer modular units are smaller, safer, more efficient and produce far less waste than the reactors of old. But it would be years before they are ready to roll out. Cost is a huge factor too. Construction on GE's Georgia plant is six years behind schedule and is $14 billion over budget, having a significant chilling effect on other potential nuclear development.

    Jennifer Faye Morris, principal research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative, agrees. "If you don't have something to lower the cost or in some way incentivize nuclear, I don't see much hope for it in the U.S." The short answer is that wind has a known proven cost and structural history. Nuclear or other sources might be practical in the future, but action must be taken now.


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