NewEnergyNews: From April 8, 2010: COAST ENERGY


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    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    From April 8, 2010: COAST ENERGY

    On the occasion of Secretary of the Interior Salazar’s announcement that Cape Wind, the first U.S. offshore wind project, is being green lighted after 9 years of thorough evaluation, NewEnergyNews is revisiting Secretary Salazar’s early work, beginning about this time last year, to get a fresh take on ocean energy. A fresh and far-seeing look it turns out to have been.

    Salazar: Wind power can replace 3,000 coal plants
    Wayne Parry, April 6, 2009 (AP)

    In conjunction with the publication of Survey of Available Data on OCS Resources and Identification of Data Gaps, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar attended the first of 4 public hearings on offshore energy and continued to talk up offshore wind while also promising access to oil and gas reserves.

    The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is 1.7 billion acres under federal jurisdiction beginning ~3 miles off the coast and extending at least 200 nautical miles. 27% of U.S. oil production and 14% of U.S. natural gas production came from the OCS in 2007. It is also where most of the development of U.S. offshore wind and ocean energies will take place.

    Secretary Salazar announced in February a 4-part strategy for developing the energy resources of the OCS: (1) A public comment period of 180 days, to September 21, 2009, on the Draft 5-Year Oil and Gas Leasing Program proposal from the Bush administration; (2) A new report by Department of the Interior (DOI) Minerals Management Service (MMS) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on conventional and New Energy offshore resources; (3) 4 regional meetings (Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Coast, and Alaska) in April to review the USGS/MMS report and get further input; (4) Expediting of DOI rulemaking for the OCS as required by the 2005 energy bill but not done by the Bush administration.

    Speaking at the Atlantic City event, the Secretary explained that his enthusiasm for offshore wind comes from its potential to generate 1 million megawatts of power, about the output of 3,000 coal plants.

    click to enlarge

    From the report: “Offshore wind resources have substantial potential to supply a large portion of the Nation's electricity demand…According to estimates by the NREL, developing shallow water (typically 0-30 meters) wind resources, which are the most likely to be technically and commercially feasible at this time, could provide at least 20 percent of the electricity needs of almost all coastal States…”

    Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) strongly voiced the environmentalists’ position against allowing drilling in the OCS on the grounds that it risks environmental disaster and continues U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.

    Petroleum geologist Skip Hobbs expressed the standard oil and gas industry response to environmentalists, saying that modern drilling has the most minimal risks of accidents and the U.S. will, despite the best intentions of environmentalists and the Obama administration, remain dependent on oil for decades. Backing up Hobbs, Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) pointed out that refusing to drill has increased U.S. dependence on imported sources.

    Governor Don Carcieri (R-Rhode Island) parted company with Congressman Bishop, a fellow Republican, and pointed out the transition to New Energy has a bipartisan urgency it has never had before.

    click to enlarge

    In the spirit of "bipartisanship," Secretary Salazar’s rhetoric mimics the “all-of-the-above” 2008 Republican campaign slogan although, like the slogan, the secretary's details remain undefined. In the spirit of President Obama’s deep and so far unwavering commitment to New Energy, Secretary Salazar frequently emphasizes that New Energy is the way to break U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and that there are few places with greater New Energy riches than the U.S. OCS.

    Much of the electoral base that supports President Obama advocates restoring the ban on OCS drilling for petroleum resources that expired last fall and upping access to offshore wind and ocean energies as well as other New Energies.

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    The Salazar Atlantic City event was held in the Convention Center. Its rooftop solar system is the U.S.’ biggest and a tribute to New Jersey’s powerful New Energy incentives and its strong commitment to its New Energy assets. The state plans to triple its installed wind capacity to 3,000 megawatts, 13% of the state’s electricity consumption, by 2020. The Atlantic City utilities authority uses power produced by a 5-turbine, 7.5 megawatt project.

    Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint venture of New Jersey utility PSE&G Renewable Generation and wind developer Deepwater Wind, was created in October 2008 to initiate a $1 billion, 345-megawatt offshore wind project 16 miles southeast of Atlantic City. Two other offshore installations were scheduled at the same time, bringing to ~1,000 megawatts the amount of wind power on hold and awaiting final DOI rules and approval.

    For the next 5-to-7 years, Atlantic offshore wind resources near high-energy demand centers (like the New Jersey coast) represent greater New Energy potential than opportunities in the other OCS regions (Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, and Alaska). Potentially significant wind resources off the California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii coasts are in deep water where technology constraints prevent near-term development. Alaska has outstanding hydrodynamic (wave, tidal, current) ocean energy potential but harsh conditions and distance from high-demand centers make near-term development unlikely.

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    Less was said in Atlantic City about hydrodynamic (wave, tidal and current) energies. The remarks in the DOI report suggest why.

    The report describes wave energy as “a potentially significant OCS renewable energy resource…in the developmental stage.” Wave energy does not currently have proven technology and is not expected to have adequate installed capacity and delivery infrastructure to be a major factor in the national energy supply in “the near future.” The report says development is likely on the Pacific Northwest coast and off Hawaii.

    According to the report, tidal energy technology is developing faster than wave energy because it utilizes more predictable forces in more accessible (shallow, nearshore) waters. Its faster development is also attributable to the fact that its shallow-water location puts it in state jurisdictions where less complicated regulatory procedures may apply

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    Current energy is the least understood of the hydrodynamic energies and its technology is least mature. The most viable potential opportunities are in the Gulf Stream that flows along the southeast coast of Florida. There are also river currents to be considered but there is no complete national estimate of current energy potential.

    The DOI survey offers lengthy assessments of all major topics pertaining to offshore energy development, including safety and environment considerations such as oil spill risks, geologic and meteorological hazards, global climate change, biological coastal and fish habitats, environmental resources for sea turtles, marine mammals, marine and coastal birds, and socioeconomics as well as data gaps.

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    - Salazar: "We know there are some people who want us to close the door on [oil and gas drilling]… We need to look at all forms of energy as we move forward into a new energy frontier…[by buying oil from hostile countries] we have, in my opinion, been funding both sides in the war on terrorism…"
    - Salazar: "There is tremendous potential with wind off the Atlantic.."
    - Jeff Tittel, director, New Jersey Sierra Club: "This is a defining moment, whether we're going to have a clean energy future or continue to rely on oil drilling…Right now the government is fossil-foolish, and we need to change that."
    - Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ): "The risks are great, the rewards are less…It perpetuates our reliance on oil, Frankly, we simply just don't want it."
    - Skip Hobbs, petroleum geologist: "We should recognize that as a practical matter, fossil fuel will rule for another generation…"

    click to enlarge

    - Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah): "[Drilling] can be done intelligently…We need to start looking at the self-inflicted energy dependence we have because we refuse to develop our domestic energy industry…"
    - Governor Don Carcieri (R-Rhode Island): "There is a sense of urgency that we get this moving and get it right…There is a national emergency right now; the dependence on oil and natural gas has gone on for too long."
    - From the report: “While we continue to generate a vast majority of our electricity from fossil fuels, renewable energy sources appear more attractive as we look for ways to address environmental, economic, and energy security…The experience, knowledge, and tools exist to ensure that offshore energy is developed in a comprehensive and environmentally sound manner. By obtaining stakeholder input (locally and nationally); compiling existing information and acquiring new data, where needed; conducting objective analyses using monitoring data to manage adaptively; and applying the necessary mitigations and safeguards along the way, we can achieve our national energy, economic, and environmental goals.”
    - From the report: “Our National energy demands have steadily increased over the past 50 years, and fossil fuels have consistently remained the primary form of energy production, followed by nuclear and renewable energy sources. While we continue to rely heavily on oil for transportation and generate a majority of our electricity from coal, renewable energy sources will play an increasingly important role…The energy resources of the OCS, and specifically renewable energy sources, are particularly attractive options with significant resources located in close proximity to coastal population centers…”


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