Federal Offshore Wind Plan
The federal offshore wind plan will cost the United States government up to $50.5 million in research and development of the potential production sites (Tiffany). This amount will be incurred in over five years during which time the project will be undergoing implementation. Most of the funding will go towards the development of multi-megawatt turbines that are also intended to stimulate related technology with the hope of promoting wind energy as a viable alternative source of electric power. The project plan will be based in southern and western Minnesota and also in Dakota areas that boast of vast wind resources (Tiffany). However, the federal authorities expect to exploit other potential locations such as the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, and along Hawaii shores (Tiffany).
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With the establishment of these sites, offshore wind capacity is expected to rise to 10 gigawatts by 2020 and up to 54 gigawatts by 2030 (Tiffany). This power generation plan will be most appropriate as it will meet the already high demand for electricity which is set to rise from 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts by 2020 (Tiffany). Along with this vision President Obama announced early this year a target goal of generating 80% of the United States’ electricity from clean energy resources by 2035; thus, the federal offshore wind plan is in line with the economic plan as well (Tiffany).
Earlier on in 2008, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published a report that examined the viability of using wind energy to generate 20% of the United States electricity demand by 2030 (Tiffany). Although oceans have been perceived to harness ideal wind resources, millions of acres of land have the potential to generate wind energy as well. This means there exists potential to generate more than 800 megawatts of electricity which is enough to power more than 240,000 homesteads (Tiffany).
CapX2020 (Capacity Expansion by 2020) is a collective initiative of transmission-owning electric utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region formed to expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continuous electricity supply and reliability for years to come (Capx2020.com).
The project began as a collective planning effort by the cooperatives, municipal utilities, and investor-owned utilities in a bid to assess the current system and project the growth in customer demand for electricity through the year 2020 (Capx2020.com). The project will therefore supply the surrounding regions with power allowing it to have stable and affordable service as customer demand for electricity increases from 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts (MW) by the year 2020.
This project plan is also based in southern and western Minnesota and the surrounding regions of Dakota as they have vast wind resources. However, the federal authorities also plan to exploit other potential locations such as the Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, and Hawaii shores (Tiffany). With the progress of the project, Minnesota and America at large will experience a cost-effective resource that does not require long-term subsidies which are usually costly.
In the long run, this will ensure electricity reliability in Minnesota and the surrounding regions. The use of renewable energy resources usually has many environmental benefits that outweigh its disadvantages especially since the adverse impacts on the environment and human health are mitigated. However, the use of wind energy can have adverse environmental impacts as well, especially when they are located in areas that interfere with ecology.
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Tiffany, H. “Federal offshore wind plan: $50.5 million in research funding.” Los Angeles Times. 2011. Web.
Capx2020.com. “Ensuring electric reliability in Minnesota and the surrounding region.” 2011. Web.