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  • Tuesday, July 17, 2012


    While Cape Wind is debated, land-based development of wind power takes off

    Erin Ailworth, July 9, 2012 (Boston Globe)

    “Despite controversy that has slowed the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, land-based wind farms are expanding rapidly in the region…One company alone, First Wind Holdings LLC of Boston, has installed enough turbines in the Northeast over the past few years to generate nearly as much power as the long-awaited offshore wind farm…

    “Driving this growth are technological advances reducing the cost of wind turbines and increasing their efficiency, making wind power more competitive with traditional power sources — particularly in the Northeast, where electricity costs can run as much as 60 percent above the national average…Turbine prices have dropped about 30 percent over the past few years, and new turbines are able to generate electricity at lower wind speeds. Meanwhile, average electricity prices in the Northeast can top 15 cents per kilowatt hour, compared with a US average of 9.52 cents. New wind technology can generate power at an average cost of about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, excluding subsidies, according to the US Energy Department…”

    “…First Wind’s [onshore] projects will [soon] have the capacity to generate nearly 420 megawatts of electricity, compared with Cape Wind’s [planned offshore] 468 megawatts…Despite the growth of land-based projects, the discussion about developing the region’s wind resources has often focused on offshore projects such as Cape Wind…[but] it could be years before any turbines are built offshore, meaning that more land-based projects will be needed to achieve renewable energy goals set by several states seeking alternatives to fossil fuels…

    “Although offshore wind is stronger and therefore an abundant and steady source of power, it has proved much harder to site projects in the ocean for a variety of environmental and technical reasons, including how to connect offshore turbines to the onshore power grid…That’s not to to say land-based wind projects have not faced opposition…but it generally has not been as vehement and vociferous as in the Cape Wind controversy…[ partly because they] tend to be in remote areas visible to few people…[and partly because they] bring jobs to rural areas that desperately need them…”


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