ASCE Collaborate has switched to a new platform called Thrive.
We appreciate your patience during the transition. What is Thrive? View more information here. Any questions or feedback? Please contact [email protected]. View Video Tutorials here.
An ASCE membership login is required to participate in discussion forums and ASCE Mentor Match.
I have noticed that the multiple New Jersey wind farm projects which are in various stages of planning, design, and development are receiving mixed support from the public. Among other complaints, there have been claims that the wind farms are causing adverse impacts to marine life. Meanwhile, there are counter-arguments claiming that this is misinformation being promoted by opposing groups such as oil companies. <o:p></o:p>
I am interested in hearing what the ASCE community has to say about these specific projects, or others that have been proposed or installed. Is there anyone on these forums who has worked on these sorts of projects before?<o:p></o:p>
I think it's incredibly hard in this country to have an 'adult' conversation about energy. There are too many competing factions and special interest groups. While I think there are valid concerns with offshore wind energy, wind energy development in the OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) is subject to NEPA, and a rigorous assessment of environmental and social impacts. Unfortunately, issues raised in the NEPA process, like the impact of offshore wind on whale migration paths, get seized upon by anti-wind groups, and the facts and discussion are contorted to fit their narrative. I do not think the opposition is big oil; companies like Shell are part of consortia looking to build wind farms. Instead, the opposition is from PACs and non-public companies not accountable to shareholders. Offshore wind has become a political hinge issue, further muddying the waters. Pragmatically, I'm all for offshore wind development. Offshore wind energy can provide grid-scale power, offshore wind energy creates local energy-related employment opportunities, and offshore wind energy adds resiliency to our nation's power supply. Arguments that wind energy is only possible due to government subsidies disingenuously avoid the favorable tax treatment of the oil and gas industry. Finally, if you love oil and gas, there's not much to worry about in terms of its demise. All one needs to do is look at the US EIA data to see the size of the hole that needs filling to eliminate these energy sources.
I have noticed that the multiple New Jersey wind farm projects which are in various stages of planning, design, and development are receiving mixed support from the public. Among other complaints, there have been claims that the wind farms are causing adverse impacts to marine life. Meanwhile, there are counter-arguments claiming that this is misinformation being promoted by opposing groups such as oil companies.
I am interested in hearing what the ASCE community has to say about these specific projects, or others that have been proposed or installed. Is there anyone on these forums who has worked on these sorts of projects before?
We are way behind Europe on this excellent source of clean energy, but catching up.
The 800 MW MA offshore wind (OSW) project (Vineyard Wind) is finishing its turbines now and will be sending wind power to New England soon. The impact statement was delayed by the last federal administration At 1 mi apart, the foundations are likely to enhance the marine environment and leave room plenty of room for fishing (if the nets will not span a mile wide). - There are spawning seasons when the NE waters don't fish anyway.
The Mass Division of Marine Fisheries posted a data summary of eastern US OSW from Q1 and Q2 of 2022. It identifies quite a few natural resource entities, like the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance (ROSA), that are reviewing and tracking ocean impacts.
The Mass Clean Energy Center www.MassCEC.com/offshore-wind runs OSW work groups. A March 2023 analysis summary of transmission and projects is here.
Project info for Vineyard Wind (and others) from one of the project developers here.
Thank you for the links Sarah! I'll be happy to take a look.
This is a very timely post sir. I'm still working towards my PE but I can tell you from my time as a commercial diver that, almost invariably, offshore structures provide more, not less, marine habitat. Disruption does occur during construction but these sand flats are mostly barren. The term for sea, river and lake floor ecology is known as benthic and does reach slightly subsurface. Cucumbers, fans snails and other filter feeders that live on these flats are generally ubiquitous for their niche substrate.
The best counterpoint that I have heard is blinking effect the shadows of the blades cause. That blinking would change frequencies depending on wind speed and the shadows would change location depending on the light source so I don't feel like the argument really holds.
From a practical standpoint, I'm concerned about the cost benefit of wind. I've seen quite a few terrestrial farms with broken turbines that are sitting idle. You are never going to get VCs on board to fund these projects if consistent and rapid repair isn't possible.
In reality, I feel like it's the same marine construction and diving firms that will be working on the wind and oil platforms likely to be seen off the east coast as energy costs increase and energy security decreases.
A couple of thoughts from a laymen😉
Thanks Mitch and Bradley. Definitely appreciate the relevant industry perspectives on this topic.
This is an interesting topic – on which many have thoughts and opinions. I like to begin by saying that policy and policy-guidelines are just an umbrella or framework – this means each project must be examined and screened on its own merit – the merits in terms of all sorts of feasibilities, effects, impacts, etc – including stakeholders interests.
This gives one – the reasons not to be supportive of any blanket blaming on the proponent or the opponent – because such blaming is vulnerable to be tainted with mob mentality – that are most often not factual and substantiated.
A little refreshing note here. Wind energy along with Solar and Hydro (rivers and streams, tide and wave) – are the only three Natural energy sources – that (1) extract energy without really consuming any source material; and (2) does not make any net addition to the Sun-Earth energy balance (more in Warming Climate and Entropy).
This does not mean projects associated with them do not have impacts. The three NAP documents – NAP 11935, NAP 26430 and NAP 27154 – throw some lights on these – focusing on Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Installations, Wind Turbine Effects on Vessel Radar, and Potential Hydrodynamic Impacts of Offshore Wind Energy Installations, respectively.
Dr. Dilip K Barua, Ph.D
Website Links and Profile
thank you for some specific study references from NAP (the National Academies). The onshore studies are relevant for above the water impacts, but actual biota and location (hurricanes) of specific marine project sites will show some differences.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has an environmental studies program. A summary of its work was presented at a Gulf of Maine Task Force Meeting. The studies for the MA OSW Vineyard Wind project should have good specifics (and the impact statement) but I was unable to find the specific links to them this morning.
Original Message:Sent: 10-05-2023 11:44 AMFrom: Christopher SeigelSubject: Offshore Wind Farms – New Jersey and Beyond
I wanted to share an update regarding 2 of the proposed wind farm projects in New Jersey. According to this article, they have been halted and possibly abandoned due to lawsuits and public opposition. The wind farm corporation appears to claim their basis for halting is an update on their tax credits and construction permits.
------------------------------Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCECivil Engineer------------------------------
Offshore wind development globally is up against strong headwinds from inflationary-driven cost increases and higher interest rates and for the US East Coast developers, electricity rates that were negotiated under more favorable circumstances. In my view, the local opposition was the final nail in the coffin for these two projects. Energy production, regardless of source, has environmental and social issues. The issues for fossil fuels and nuclear are very visible. The issues for renewable are less visible, but there, too. The Cape May community, in their opposition, is just passing the buck to another community, as it is unlikely that they will give up their energy usage. It's too bad they could not have found a way to yes.
------------------------------Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCECivil EngineerOriginal Message:Sent: 10-05-2023 11:44 AMFrom: Christopher SeigelSubject: Offshore Wind Farms – New Jersey and Beyond