A Mighty Wind (Farm) off the Delaware Coast

Last November I wrote a column, “Wind Shear,” that outlined the potential for building massive wind farms off the Virginia coast. The Mid-Atlantic coast of the United States, it seems, is an ideal location for massive arrays of electricity-generating windmills. In theory, a wind farm with a footprint the size of Virginia Beach — about three percent of Virginia’s continental shelf — could supply the equivalent of 20 percent of the Commonwealth’s current electricity needs.

It appears, however, that Delaware is getting the jump on Virginia when it comes to developing this resource. Bluewater Wind, of New Jersey, has won preliminary approval from a panel of state officials to build a wind farm, although the company might have to scale down its original proposal for 200 of the 250-foot-tall windmills.

Reports the Washington Post: “At a meeting yesterday in Dover, the state capital, leaders from four Delaware agencies ordered an electric utility, Delmarva Power, to negotiate with the wind farm’s developer. … Phil Cherry, who represented the state environmental agency at the meeting, said the agency also expressed a preference for a site off Rehoboth Beach.”

Advocates argued that the windmills, stationed several miles offshore, would generate clean electricity — no pollution, no greenhouse gases — and appear to beach bathers as toothpick-thin specks on the horizon. The article did not elucidate the cost of the wind-powered electricity compared to conventional technologies. It does not bode well for the economics of the project that Delmarva Power may be required to maintain a back-up plant fired by fossil fuels to supply electricity when the wind wasn’t blowing.

Bluewater is the first company to propose building a windfarm off the Atlantic Coast. If the Delaware project demonstrates the economic viability of wind power, it shouldn’t be long before Virginia sees a similar proposal.

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3 responses to “A Mighty Wind (Farm) off the Delaware Coast”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Check out what other countries are doing for wave power also. Desalinization possibilities combined with wave power are interesting and once again challenge the logic of the
    Mattaponi reservoir.


  2. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    These machines get energy from the tides and the wind. Excellent investment – of course I’d like to see all the numbers for installation, maintenance, safety, environmental costs, etc.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I want to see these things after a hurricane tears up the coast.

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