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Massachusetts Gains Foothold in Offshore Wind Power, Long Ignored in US (nytimes.com) 174

New Bedford hopes to soon be the operations center for the first major offshore wind farm in the United States, bringing billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs to the town and other ports on the East Coast. The New York Times: On Wednesday, that effort took a major step forward as the State of Massachusetts, after holding an auction, selected a group made up of a Danish investment firm and a Spanish utility to erect giant turbines on the ocean bottom, beginning about 15 miles off Martha's Vineyard. This initial project will generate 800 megawatts of electricity, roughly enough to power a half a million homes. At the same time, Rhode Island announced it would award a 400-megawatt offshore wind project to another bidder in the auction.

The groups must now work out the details of their contracts with the states' utilities. "We see this not just as a project but as the beginning of an industry," Lars Thaaning Pedersen, the chief executive of Vineyard Wind, which was awarded the Massachusetts contract, said in an interview. Offshore wind farms have increasingly become mainstream sources of power in Northern Europe, and are fast becoming among the cheapest sources of electricity in countries like Britain and Germany. Those power sources in those two countries already account for more than 12 gigawatts of electricity generation capacity.

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Massachusetts Gains Foothold in Offshore Wind Power, Long Ignored in US

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  • Ignored? HAH!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Thursday May 24, 2018 @01:22PM (#56666912)

    Champagne Socialists (*cough*Ted Kennedy*cough*) have been fighting this for YEARS, afraid that it will spoil the precious views out of their sea-side mansions...

    • "socialist" [votesmart.org] wasn't one of them. He was yet another "Corporate" Democrat that came out of the Clinton era. He voted right wing on anything economic and, well, didn't vote on much else.
      • All your link proves is he preferred drinking to voting...Can't blame him for that.

        Of the ones he bothered showing up for (on the first page), all but 2 are handouts. One of those was a pure partisan power grab (DC 'voting'). The other was removing immunity from telcos for aiding the NSA, which was pure 'ass cover'.

        Sure they aren't overtly 'marxist', but 'socialist' has a broader definition.

        • One of those was a pure partisan power grab (DC 'voting').

          Giving US citizens, who are taxed just like the rest of us, representation in congress is a partisan power grab? Get out of here with that crap. It's ridiculous that they haven't had representation since day one.

          • Complete historical ignorance.

            The solution, to the extent one is needed, is to cede pure residential land back from DC to Maryland (IIRC, whichever state DC was carved out of in the first place). But leave the federal government living in it's zone. This solution is also better as it just kills the corrupt abomination known as DC city government, puts DC schools and local services into competent hands.

            It's a partisan power grab.

        • just that he's not a socialist. I'm a socialist myself, and I'm tired of people taking some random jerk ass Democrat and pinning the name 'socialist' on him just because they don't like them. As Bernie said, words have meaning. Socialist isn't just a slur. And if you ask folks in the rest of the developed world what they think about socialism you'll find they're pretty damn OK with it.
          • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Thursday May 24, 2018 @05:48PM (#56669170)

            Which flavor of socialist? Many hate each other. What makes you the judge? A Maoist would say: 'you aren't'.

            All socialists are _not_ Marxists.

            Better idea: Ask folks that lived under socialism what they think about socialism. Yeah, yeah, 'no true scotsman'. Sell it somewhere else. Marxism is broken, the police state is inevitable, built right in.

            • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Thursday May 24, 2018 @08:05PM (#56669920) Homepage Journal

              Better idea: Ask folks that lived under socialism what they think about socialism.

              I've lived under socialism, and I really liked it. Free healthcare, free education, no one living on the streets. Quite substantial taxes, but you felt people got something back for the taxes, and especially those who needed it the most.
              Of course, as you say, there are many flavours of socialism. This was a social democracy with the socialist worker's party having a clear majority for several decades.

              • I can't help but notice you don't claim to live there NOW...you must not like it as much as you say.

                • by arth1 ( 260657 )

                  I can't help but notice you don't claim to live there NOW...you must not like it as much as you say.

                  I got married to a monolingual person (i.e. American).

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              Ask the guy dying of easily curable diseases in the gutter what he thinks of capitalism.

              Or maybe just accept that extremes of anything tend to be bad. Right now the best counties to live in are all socialist.

      • You seem to have forgotten, "socialist" doesn't mean what it used to mean. These days "socialist" means anyone who isn't a conservative, just like "fascist" means anyone who isn't a liberal.

      • Came out of the Clinton era? He elected to the Senate when Bill was still in High School. The Clinton Era represents 20% of his time in power.
  • They won't be able to build windfarms that close to Marthas Vineyard. If you have ever been there, you know why.
    • $$$$$$$$$$$$ + NIMBY = 0% chance of it happening.

      I haven't studied the wind patterns off the Atlantic seaboard, but it seems like they could go a little north and try the Maine coastline, perhaps? Is it about visibility for their project?

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )

        It's offshore.

        How is it in or near anyone's backyard?

        I mean, I guess the wind farm will be visible from shore, but it's my understanding it'd still be pretty far out. People live closer to all kinds of city infrastructure that is *FAR* more visibility occluding than that.

      • I haven't studied the wind patterns off the Atlantic seaboard, but it seems like they could go a little north and try the Maine coastline, perhaps?

        And spoil the view from the Bush family compound on the coast of Maine . . . ?

        $$$$$$$$$$$$ + NIMBY = 0% chance of it happening.

    • They won't be able to build windfarms that close to Marthas Vineyard. If you have ever been there, you know why.

      I'm honestly surprised it's legal. In my home city, wind power is illegal. What little information I found on the subject when I looked into it pointed to lobbying by special interest groups interested in protecting birds.

      • The US is the second largest wind power producer in the world.
      • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday May 24, 2018 @01:50PM (#56667194)

        What little information I found on the subject when I looked into it pointed to lobbying by special interest groups interested in protecting birds.

        Which is one of the more bullshit arguments one can make against wind power since wind turbines kill rather few birds. Cell phone towers actually kill far more birds [usatoday.com] than wind turbines do but I don't see people complaining about those. And cats kill orders of magnitude more birds than wind turbines.

        From the link
        "Wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds annually — a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers and the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion deaths from cats, according to the peer-reviewed study by two federal scientists and the environmental consulting firm West Inc."

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Wind turbines aren't created equal in terms of bird safety. Fast-spinning ones with many blades, usually short ones, are quite dangerous. However, the amount of energy gained from the length of the blade increases at a cubic exponential rate, so the huge three-bladed turbines that rotate relatively slowly are actually the most effective solution for generating energy *and* are fairly safe for birds. The trope of the dangerous bird blender is really oil industry astroturf.

        • "Wind turbines kill between 214,000 and 368,000 birds annually â" a small fraction compared with the estimated 6.8 million fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers and the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion deaths from cats, according to the peer-reviewed study by two federal scientists and the environmental consulting firm West Inc."

          So, enough wind turbines for a minute fraction of the electricity needed kills ~5% of the number of birds as are killed by the cast number of cell towers scattered hi

        • by es330td ( 964170 )

          And cats kill orders of magnitude more birds than wind turbines.

          I think cats kill a very different kind of bird than wind turbines. I am pretty certain that the number of hawks and eagles killed by house cats is very close to zero in comparison. Taking out predators seems to me to be more likely to matter in the ecosystem balance picture.

          • I have a fairly large cat, a Maine Coon, who weighs in around a solid 17 pounds (he's not fat, either - he's about 40 inches long, and stands about 14 inches tall - upper side of average for the breed). He's brought home squirrels, rats, and even a dead possum one night. I wouldn't bet on him against a hawk or eagle, though...
        • From the same article:

          The wind energy industry has occasionally been at odds with conservation groups because of bird deaths. They clashed in December [2017] when the Obama administration, eager to promote non-polluting renewable energy as a way to address climate change, announced a new federal rule that allows wind farms to lawfully kill bald and golden eagles under 30-year permits.

          I doubt domestic cats are killing bald eagles, and they sure as hell aren't getting federal permits to do so for the next 3 decades.

      • did that lobby also mention getting rid of the biggest bird killers - cats?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...the State of Massachusetts, after holding an auction, selected a group made up of a Danish investment firm and a Spanish utility ....

    And our current administration's policy is to promote 19th century while the rest of the World forges ahead in the 21st century.

    Solar cells from China and wind turbines from Europe and other renewable energy.
    Cost Rica has wind power - you know, a Third World sh...

    Some of us need to get over this nostalgia for an America that never existed and get up to speed because we ARE behind in many areas.

    Life changes - it's a fact - and trying to keep the status quo always fails.

  • I doubt it will happen once they see what a crap hole the place is.
  • Many fond memories of roblimo from the way early days of slashdot while I was in college. Wonderful open minded being, please watch over us

    Yhcrana

  • We really need this. Pilgrim power, a nearby nuclear plant that generates a large percentage of MA's power, is set to close in a few years.
    • Not that we shouldn't also be investing in wind, but really we should be renovating and expanding our use of nuclear power instead of shuttering it. I get that a lot of reactors are old and we shouldn't keep using old reactors; but properly managed nuclear power is by a wide margin the most scale-able alternative to fossil fuels we have. If we invested more heavily into it it could probably be a cheaper option too.
      • >it could probably be a cheaper option too.

        I don't think so. If anything, newer nuclear power plants get MORE expensive per kwh produced.

      • by GWBasic ( 900357 )

        When you look at pictures of Pilgrim power on Google Maps, you can see where they store the spent fuel rods. They're almost on top of the shoreline: https://goo.gl/maps/yB8EG8AYNk... [goo.gl]

        I'm not really opposed to nuclear, but the politics on all sides makes it a poor option. The anti-nuclear crowd blocks legitimate research, and the pro-nuclear crowd doesn't want to do what's needed to keep radiation contained. Even worse, we can't get the politics together to move our nuclear waste to safer storage, so it just

  • I don't know much of anything about that section of the country, but what is the magnetic attraction that Matha's Vineyard has for offshore windfarms? I've heard about the NIMBY effect blocking windfarms there for years, but the east coast of the US is an awfully long stretch of "offshore" for there to be such a kerfuffle about this one place. I'd expect strings of windmills to be used as replacements for buoys emmanating from New York harbor to create traffic lanes at this point (the masts would be usefu

    • Thumb in the eye of the limousine liberals living in the vineyard. They SHOULD 'eat their own dogshit'.

      The left eats itself...it's a feature.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Answer: Martha's Vinyard's attraction for wind power production is the combination of fantastic winds (capacity factors for similar new builds in Europe's offshore are in the 60%+ range, equal to coal generators), shallow waters even far offshore (i.e., easy construction), and its close geographic proximity to both the Boston and NYC demand hubs.

      IOW: high wholesale prices, cheap install costs, and high capacity factors (i.e., high output per wind turbine) = profit!

  • That bit should have been left off the summary, if whomever were really trying to make a case.

    The amount of offshore windpower they attribute to the UK and Germany (combined) amounts to 0.0035% of all the electricity produced in those two countries.

    In other words, it's a rounding error, not a significant factor....

    • by Whibla ( 210729 )

      I read your calculated figure and thought "that can't be right".

      However, my feeling means nothing, so let's take a look at the 'actual' numbers (Well, I'm going to have to make some simplifying assumptions, because the most recent (2018) data didn't seem to be available):

      This page [ofgem.gov.uk] lists the mix of energy generation in the UK, by quarter. I'll use the last entry, Q4 for 2017:

      Total (unitless) generated: 90.2.
      Total (unitless) renewables generated: 18.33.

      Using the spreadsheet linked to on this page [www.gov.uk] shows us tha

      • Wind, in total, is 37% of 'British' renewable energy (in 2009). The rest is Hydro, biomass and biogas. British solar?..They have sun in England? When?

        About 3.

        Easy statistical lies to fuck with these numbers, (include/don't include) Scotland. England is flat, English drunks in squirrel wheels have much more generation potential than English hydro. The generation potential of Scottish drunks is virtually unlimited.

        • by Whibla ( 210729 )

          Like the post I replied to, you've stated a number but provided no reference. although, unlike that post, your figure looks to be in the right ballpark at least.

          However, I'm not sure of your point.

          Using the data table I linked to in my original response it's easy to see that while generation from hydro remained pretty much unchanged (5.2 -> 5.76), biogas roughly tripled from 2009 to 2017 (9.57 -> 27.21) and the power generated from wind and solar over the same period increased greater than sixfold (9.

          • As many cites as you provided...

            My point is you are overstating wind by 2.5x.

            • by Whibla ( 210729 )

              My point is you are overstating wind by 2.5x.

              An interesting assertion.

              Would you care to back that up with some logic demonstrating where I've gone wrong in my calculations?

              Or perhaps provide a link of your own, backing your point of view? Of course I'd prefer a cite that's more authoritative than that of the government regulator responsible for overseeing electrical generation within the UK, but I'm not entirely sure who that would be... Perhaps you could provide an answer to that too?

      • by Uecker ( 1842596 )

        Offshore wind generated 2.7% of the power in Germany in 2017, but offshore wind is just starting now. All renewables were at 33.3%. Source: https://www.ag-energiebilanzen... [ag-energiebilanzen.de]

    • http://gridwatch.co.uk/ [gridwatch.co.uk] - maybe you should check this site now and again - renewables 19.31%
    • by Uecker ( 1842596 )

      offshore wind produce 2.7% of all electricity in Germany in 2017. Source: https://www.ag-energiebilanzen... [ag-energiebilanzen.de]

  • Once the NIMBYs stick their oars in.

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts, please. The copy editor at the Times ought to know this. Sheesh, the quality of journalism these days.

    (Trivia contest time: how many other commonwealths are there and what are their names?)

    OK, get back to ranting about NIMBYs, Kennedys (live or dead), wind farm subsidies, fossil fuel cronys, and how the Illuminati are poisoning the oceans.

  • Off-shore wind farms are a good thing to do once you've depleted the potential for on-shore ones. Most of the United States isn't built-out with on-shore wind power yet. Lots of on-shore wind generation here in California. I drove across Ohio the other day and saw very few of them, miles of open farm fields with nothing to stop the wind, and not a single turbine, though there seemed to be no absence of wind. More going in California every day. And solar is going to be required on new homes in California (ex

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