NewEnergyNews: GREAT LAKES WIND IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY

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    Monday, May 04, 2009

    GREAT LAKES WIND IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY

    Wind turbines on Lake Erie could cost up to $93 million
    Tom Breckenridge, May 1, 2009 (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

    SUMMARY
    A Cleveland region energy task force has released the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study, a rigorous and thorough evaluation of the as-yet untapped potential for offshore wind energy on Lake Erie. It is a serious and comprehensive investigation and does not turn away from the challenges that must be confronted in order to develop that potential.

    Previous studies recorded wind speeds over Lake Erie of 16+ mph, the strongest winds in Ohio.

    The new study concluded that the potential to generate substantial power is there, and with it is the potential for new industry and thousands of new jobs for the region.

    From the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    The study, a tour de force of the technical, environmental, regulatory and financial issues pertaining to offshore wind development, was done by juwi GmbH, a German company, for $1 million. Much of the cost was covered by donations from the Cleveland Foundation and Case Western Reserve University.

    Putting the first 3-to-8 turbines on Lake Erie will not be cheap. The study puts the price tag at $78-to-$93 million, depending on the size of the turbines and the part of Lake Erie in which they are installed.

    The study concluded a turbine array would have little effect on birds, fish or other underwater life. Blade icing and winter ice floes would not cause problems with modern turbines.

    The task force (a coalition of city, county, civic and business leaders) sees the cost of the installation as an investment, not an expense, and wants to get the project done in the next 3 years. Along with the release of the study, the task force announced it will soon file for state and federal permits.

    Actual onshore turbine in foreground with artist's rendering of an offshore turbine beyond. From the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    Because the turbines will be clearly visible 3 miles off Cleveland's shoreline, a final commitment for the project will not come until metropolitan region residents approve. There will be meetings with community groups over the next 3-to-4 months. There has been little opposition so far but the task force kept a low profile during the study period. Release of the feasibility study will change that.

    The most controversial aspect of the project is expected to be its cost. Without subsidies, offshore wind-generated electricity may cost 23 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 7-to-9 cents for electricity from Ohio's land-based turbines and 4-to-6 cents per kilowatt-hour for coal.

    The actual cost, however, may be half the 23 cents figure after grants come in from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), federal stimulus money and state of Ohio subsidies.

    Federal production tax credits and state investment tax credits are likely to drive private investment in the project. Foreign and domestic investors have expressed interest. But other Great Lakes groups, including those in New York, Michigan and Ontario, are also developing plans and attempting to attract entrepreneurs.

    Artist's rendering of the project from the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    COMMENTARY
    From the report:

    juwi GmbH was the Project Manager with team members Germanischer Lloyd, BrownFlynn, Black and Veatch, Econnect, Curry and Kerlinger, and DLZ Ohio.

    Following a 1-year study, juwi identified nine potential turbine configurations at different locations in the Project area.

    Siting criteria included water depth, geology, shipping lanes, underwater features, air navigation, radar, ecological concerns, and wind resource.

    Artist's rendering of the project from the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    The recommended best location for the turbine array: An area east of the Cleveland water intake Crib, approximately three miles from shore.

    Final turbine locations depends on regulatory details.

    Preliminary geological evaluation suggests monopole towers would be the best choice.

    Wind and wave conditions are considered moderate relative to other Lake Erie and world offshore wind sites.

    From the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    A wind turbine fulfilling Germanischer Lloyd Class II requirements should be suitable for the Pilot Project.

    The principal turbine design consideration for offshore wind turbines in Lake Erie is ice – but it is not a prohibiting factor. An ice cone integrated into the turbine’s foundation will break up ice floes at the waterline.

    The study identified no serious harm to marine ecology and avian species. The biggest impacts to marine ecology will be short term and impermanent, during construction. Long term, the turbine foundation structures will attract fish and provide marine habitat, like other artificial reefs near the Project area.

    The Avian Risk Assessment indicates only minimal impacts to habitat and little displacement or collision mortality. Radar and other studies show nocturnal migration occurs mostly at altitudes above the height of wind turbines.

    From the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    Post-construction studies are recommended.

    Offshore wind energy development is more capital intensive than comparable onshore projects but the offshore wind resource is greater. Lake Erie possesses the best wind resource in Ohio.

    A Pilot Project will undoubtedly provide solutions to technical challenges and further reinforce the viability of large-scale offshore wind energy development on Lake Erie.

    The challenge of a Pilot Project presents research and development opportunities to investigate new access techniques and equipment.

    From the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    Eight potential Pilot Project scenarios were evaluated, ranging in capital investment from $77.2 to $92.7 million ($2008) and with average annual operations and maintenance costs of form $2.7 to $4.6 million ($2010).

    Designed to test and prove concepts, and promote technological and commercial development, the Pilot Project will not be economical and should not be considered to reflect the real future costs of large-scale offshore wind in Lake Erie.

    It is recommended that Cuyahoga County partner with established research organizations, certification bodies, and/or academic institutions such as National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Case Western Reserve University (research) and testing, and Germanischer Lloyd (certification).

    Public and community support for the Project, and for offshore wind energy on Lake Erie, are important to the future of the industry.

    If the County decides to proceed, several steps are suggested: (1) Selection of a preferred site; (2) Continued consultation with regulatory agencies; (3) Additional technical and geotechnical studies prior to design and interconnection; (4) Pursuit of funding opportunities and turbine manufacturer(s); (5) Optimization of the number and size of turbines; (6) Partnership with established research and/or certification bodies; (6) Community and stakeholder engagement; (7) Policy incentives in Ohio.

    From the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Bill Mason, Prosecutor/energy task force member: "We are in a race with the rest of the Midwest…Whoever gets in the water first wins the race."
    - Ralf Krueger, CEO, juwi GmbH: "The study confirms it's technically feasible, even if the lake freezes over…"
    - Ronn Richard, President, Cleveland Foundation: "We need the public and the business community to get behind this…Being second, third or fourth will bring us nothing. . . . This is a well-thought-out risk."
    - Norman Tien, dean of the engineering school, Case Western Reserve University: "[The project] has the potential to dramatically change the economic landscape of the region…"

    From the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study (click to enlarge)

    - From the study’s conclusion: “The development of the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center—and the future build-out of the offshore wind industry in Ohio—will require new policies to better incentivize offshore wind in Ohio…To remain a committed leader in the Great Lakes offshore wind industry, Ohio should adopt policies to make the initial build-out of the offshore wind industry economically attractive to private sector interests. Strong policies are critical to help ensure that significant development of the offshore wind industry in North America occurs in Ohio. While no wind energy projects exist in the Great Lakes, several are in the feasibility or planning stages. If elected office holders and administrations pursue offshore wind in Lake Erie in general and in Northeast Ohio in particular, the region will prevail in the contest with other regions.”

    2 Comments:

    At 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The first photo is an existing turbine at the Great Lakes Science Center (on land).

     
    At 8:10 AM, Anonymous dmeaney@cuyahogaCounty.us said...

    The first photo with the Great Lakes Science Center shows an EXISTING turbine - not an artist's rendering.

     

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