Wind Energy in America

By: Hamza Naeem

Ending of fuels and lack of energy

Over the past 100 years many new electrical appliances such as dishwashers, microwaves, and air conditioners have been invented. Because of these inventions, we are using more energy than ever before. It is predicted that the fossil fuels we currently use for sources of energy will be used up within 50-200 years. When this happens, cities all over the world will need alternative sources of energy. Fortunately there are several renewable energy sources being developed and used all over the world.



It is the year 2080, and Electric City is in the midst of an energy crisis. Recent power outages have left outraged citizens without the use of computers, home entertainment centers, light, and cordless phones. Outages are blamed on the lack of fuel to run the Electric City Power Plant, which generates all electricity for the city. Up until now, coal has been the city's only source of energy. It has always been cheap and easily accessible, but supplies are dwindling quickly.

Wind energy in USA

Wind is the world's fastest growing alternative energy resource. In the United States wind turbines in twenty seven states create enough power for more than one million families. The Altamont Pass in northern California is home to the country's oldest wind farm which is also the world's largest inland installation with seven thousand turbines.

Cape Town wind energy

Several years ago, Cape Wind proposed America's first offshore wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. Miles from the nearest shore, one hundred and thirty wind turbines that will reach a height of two hundred and sixty three feet would produce up to four hundred and twenty megawatts of clean, renewable energy. In average winds, Cape Wind will provide three quarters of the Cape and Islands electricity needs. The wind turbines will be spaced six to nine football fields apart, allowing navigational room for shallow draft boats that pass through or fish Horseshoe Shoal. The turbines would be located in 24 square miles of Nantucket Sound. General Electric wind generators designed for offshore use would be utilized. The site was chosen because it was highly favorable for wind development (maybe the best in the East Coast). The area has strong steady winds and is close to onshore power lines while being protected from high waves. The completion for permitting is scheduled in 2008 and the project completion timeline is 2010.

In a legal sense everything three nautical miles out are under the management of the State Of Massachusetts. Beyond three miles, where the project is proposed, is managed by the Federal Government. However, to the residents of the Cape and the Islands, the project is seen as being built in their back yard.

In fact, opposition to the project has been extensive and public opinion polls on Cape Cod have consistently shown the population evenly divided on Cape Wind. There are several reasons for the extent of the opposition to the project. The tourist trade on the Cape accounts for about nineteen thousand jobs and if the sight of the wind turbines hurts tourism on the Cape, jobs would be lost and the economy and property values would become depressed. While the initial environmental draft study said damage to wildlife in the area would not be significant, many people remain concerned about the effect of wind turbines on the marine environment of the area. Concern for birds flying into the turbines is also an issue. Some would argue that the solution is not wind power, but other alternatives like hydrogen and those solutions to energy problems will be found in solar power or fuel cells, not in wind power.

If you are an environmentalist and you live on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket, the proposed offshore wind farm presents a real dilemma for you. The project would provide clean energy but would invade a pristine, natural ocean area. It could be viewed as a way to reduce air pollution or a problem for marine and avian species. It can be viewed as a way to replace our dependency on foreign oil or another government financed equivalent to the Big Dig. It can be viewed as a progressive solution to problems in our environment or a way for greedy developers to spoil the Cape Cod area further.

The project of wind turbines on Nantucket Sound is unique in that it's an argument of environmentalist against environmentalist. There is no pure "green" solution to the issue. You can see wind turbines as a progressive solution to the energy issues of our generation. However, wind turbines can also be seen an ugly invasion by man into an ocean where he does not belong with the potential to create havoc (in ways we do not yet understand) to marine and avian species.

These are the complex economic and environmental issues for the residents of Cape Cod and the Islands to consider concerning the Cape Wind proposal of America's first offshore wind farm on Nantucket Sound.

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