Bridging the Unknown: US Offshore Wind Turbine Projects


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offshore wind turbine projects

Uncover the mysteries of Offshore Wind Turbine Projects along the US East Coast, offshore wind turbines whales, offshore wind farms killing whales, are offshore wind farms killing whales, fishing industry concern.

Amidst the rush to build offshore wind power projects along the U.S. coastlines from Maine to South Carolina, there’s a lot of uncertainty about how these projects might impact the environment. This has left many people, especially those who rely on the sea for their livelihoods, feeling concerned.

Jim Hutchinson, the managing editor of The Fisherman magazine in New Jersey, summed up the situation, saying, “We really don’t know what kind of impact this will have. It seems like the approach so far has been, ‘Let’s build it first and figure out the consequences later.'”

The wind power industry, on the other hand, insists that they have conducted extensive studies to address these concerns.

Offshore Wind Turbine Projects

Currently, there are four approved offshore wind projects on the U.S. East Coast, according to the American Clean Power Association.

Vineyard Wind Farm project

One of them, Vineyard Wind, plans to set up 62 turbines about 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard, which could generate enough electricity to power 400,000 homes.

South Fork Wind Farm Project

South Fork Wind is another project that aims to place 12 turbines in the waters off Long Island, New York, approximately 35 miles east of Montauk Point, providing power to 70,000 homes.

Orsted projects in New Jersey

Meanwhile, Ocean Wind I, the first of two Orsted projects in New Jersey, plans to install 98 turbines roughly 15 miles off Atlantic City and Ocean City, generating power for 500,000 homes. Orsted is a Danish wind power company involved in two out of the three approved offshore projects in New Jersey.

Upcoming Offshore Wind Projects

Additionally, there’s the upcoming Revolution Wind development, located about 15 miles southeast of Point Judith, Rhode Island, with 65 turbines that could power nearly 250,000 homes. Many more projects have been proposed, and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is set to review at least 16 offshore wind projects by 2025.

Greg Cudnik, a recreational fisherman, bait and tackle shop owner, and party boat captain from Ship Bottom, New Jersey, expressed his concerns, saying, “All of this is happening so quickly, and scientific research takes time.”

Studies and Reports on Offshore Wind Power Projects

A joint study conducted in March by two federal scientific agencies and the commercial fishing industry highlighted various potential impacts that offshore wind power projects might have on marine life, including issues like noise, vibrations, electromagnetic fields, and changes in heat that could affect the environment.

Similar to previous studies, this report pointed out that it’s not easy to predict how these structures and cables will interact with marine life. For instance, some fish might be attracted to the turbines while others could be deterred.

The study also noted that large underwater platforms tend to attract smaller marine organisms living on the seabed, such as shellfish and crabs, which, in turn, attract larger predators like black sea bass. However, the disturbances caused by turbine operations, including cloudy water, noise, vibrations, and electromagnetic fields, could potentially cause some species to leave the area.

In most cases, the report suggested that more research is needed. One of the co-authors, Andy Lipsky, who oversees the wind energy team at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, emphasized that this work helps agencies figure out the long-term monitoring required for these studies and that further investigation is necessary to understand how offshore wind energy might affect marine habitats.

Other Countries Research on Offshore Wind Turbine Projects

Research in other countries has also shown mixed results. Some European studies suggest that crabs and lobsters are attracted to the hard seabed areas that support wind turbines, while other species like flatfish and whiting tend to avoid these locations.

Biden Administration

In May, the Biden Administration allocated an $850,000 grant to gather more information about the hearing abilities of critically endangered North American right whales, with the aim of supporting the rapid development of offshore wind projects.

Considerable research has already been conducted. Since 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has published several studies each year on its website. In many cases, these studies have recommended further investigation and analysis.

Phil Sgro, a spokesperson for the American Clean Power Association, believes that there is sufficient scientific evidence to demonstrate that offshore wind development can be carried out in an economically and environmentally responsible manner.

Are Offshore Wind Farms Killing Whales

However, opponents attribute the preparation of the ocean floor to the deaths of 70 whales on the U.S. East Coast since December. Yet, three federal agencies have stated that there is no concrete evidence linking the two.

US Fishing Industries

Both the commercial and recreational fishing industries in the U.S. have a range of concerns about how offshore wind could affect their operations in areas that have long been used for fishing with minimal disruption.

When speaking with commercial and recreational fishermen and women, it’s evident that they share common worries about the potential consequences of offshore wind turbines, such as scaring away the species they rely on for fishing.

Their concerns include the fear that electromagnetic fields from underwater power cables might affect marine life, worries about navigating safely around the turbines, and concerns about being restricted from fishing in areas that have been productive for generations. There’s also the worry that unforeseen impacts could lead to reduced catches and government-imposed limits if fish stocks decline.

While some companies have voluntarily agreed to compensate fishermen for any economic losses, there is currently no legal requirement to do so.

Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison for Seafreeze, a seafood company based in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, summed up the situation by saying, “Offshore wind is currently the biggest threat to the commercial fishing industry in the United States of America.”

Cudnik, the boat captain from New Jersey, is concerned that valuable species might be driven away due to changes in the ocean floor. He explains, “Clams, scallops, flounder, and sand eels are found in soft sand bottoms, and many species like striped bass, sea bass, and mahis depend on these eels for food. When these eels are abundant, it’s great for fishing. All these offshore wind areas are located in these prime habitats.”

Keith Craffey, president of the Baymen’s Protective Association on New Jersey’s Raritan Bay, worries that power cables from a New York project coming ashore in New Jersey might cross productive clam beds used by their members, potentially making these areas off-limits.

He poses a critical question: “If we have to lay off 50 workers because of this, will the offshore wind companies step in to help them?”

Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released an environmental impact statement for the proposed Empire Wind project in New York, which is designed to provide power to 700,000 homes. The statement concluded that the project could have “moderate to major” impacts on commercial fisheries and “minor to moderate” impacts on recreational fishing. However, it also mentioned that the creation of an artificial reef could have minor beneficial effects, attracting certain fish species.

In 2020, New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry recorded nearly $690 million in sales, excluding imports, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The recreational sector generated $724 million in sales during the same year.

Sgro emphasized that the wind energy industry has been working closely with the government and the fishing industry to address these concerns. This includes agreements to avoid placing turbines in areas frequented by anglers. Additionally, a study in the waters off southern New England concluded that heat and electromagnetic fields from buried cables would not negatively impact essential fish species in the area.

Orsted, the developer behind two of New Jersey’s approved projects, has committed to “avoid, minimize, and mitigate” negative impacts on fishing. They also plan to compensate boat crews for any gear damage or loss, provide direct compensation to recreational and commercial vessels adversely affected, establish a navigational safety fund, and coordinate with authorities on seasonal operating restrictions to protect specific fish populations.

While the federal government has endorsed compensation to the fishing industry for any negative effects resulting from offshore wind, it’s not yet a mandatory requirement. Eleven states are currently considering the creation of a regional fund to oversee such payments.

U.S. Representative Frank Pallone Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, supports the idea of compensation “if the industry faces economic challenges due to the transition to offshore wind power.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Offshore Wind Turbine Projects and its Impact on the Environment and Fishing Industry

Q: What are offshore wind Turbine projects, and where are they being developed in the United States?

Answer: Offshore wind turbine projects involve the installation of wind turbines in coastal waters to generate electricity. In the United States, these projects are being developed along the East Coast, from Maine to South Carolina. Some notable projects include Vineyard Wind off Martha’s Vineyard, South Fork Wind near Long Island, Ocean Wind I off Atlantic City, and Revolution Wind near Point Judith, Rhode Island, among others.

Q: What studies have been conducted to assess the impact of offshore wind projects on the environment?

Answer: Several studies have been conducted by federal scientific agencies and the commercial fishing industry. These studies have documented various potential impacts of underwater turbines on marine life, including attraction and repulsion of fish species, changes in marine life around platforms, and effects of noise and vibrations on ecosystems.

Q: How are the fishing industry and fishermen affected by offshore wind projects?

Answer: Both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors have concerns about how offshore wind projects could impact their operations. These concerns include potential disruptions caused by electromagnetic fields from underwater power cables, navigational challenges around turbines, and access restrictions to fishing grounds that have been productive for generations.

Q: Are there any compensation or mitigation efforts to address the concerns of the fishing industry?

Answer: Some offshore wind companies have voluntarily committed to compensating fishermen for any economic losses. However, there is currently no legal requirement for compensation. Efforts are also being made to minimize negative impacts, such as avoiding turbine placement in areas heavily used by anglers and coordinating with authorities on safety measures.

Q: What is the future outlook for offshore wind power projects in the United States?

Answer: The offshore wind power industry in the United States is rapidly expanding, with multiple projects in development and many more proposed. The government plans to review more projects in upcoming years. The industry strives to balance the demand for renewable energy with environmental and fishing industry concerns.

Q: Where can I find more information about specific offshore wind projects and their impacts?

Answer: You can find more information on the websites of relevant government agencies, environmental organizations, and the companies involved in offshore wind projects. Additionally, news sources and research publications often provide updates and insights on this topic.

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