National Workshop on the Siting of Wind Power in the US Coastal Ocean

October 22-24, 2003


Plenary Sessions chaired by (Hauke Kite-Powell and Porter Hoagland)
Workshop organized by (Mary Schumacher)

In October 2003, the WHOI Marine Policy Center (MPC) convened a workshop of international experts to examine the issues raised by recent proposals to site wind-power facilities in the US coastal ocean. Sponsored jointly by MPC and the WHOI Coastal Ocean Institute, the workshop focused on the development of a US management approach and policy framework to deal with such proposals, which entail a new use of a public resource that must be balanced against other, potentially conflicting, uses.

The workshop addressed a range of policy considerations and presented potentially applicable experiences and models from the United States and abroad. During two days of prepared talks and a final half-day of in-depth discussion, MPC researchers and 18 invited experts from government, industry, and academia in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Israel addressed topics ranging from the technical aspects of wind farm planning in the United Kingdom to the complex array of federal and state laws and agencies with jurisdiction over some aspect of the US energy system. The WHOI workshop differed from other recent US wind power meetings in its comprehensive scope and treatment of the many technical, economic, environmental, and regulatory aspects of the general ocean wind power facility siting decision.

First Plenary Session: Technology, Environment and Markets

chaired by Hauke Kite-Powell

The first day's plenary session featured presentations characterizing the current state of affairs and the main challenges and opportunities associated with wind power technologies, markets, and potential environmental effects. Two speakers provided overviews of the current economic and policy setting for wind power and other renewable energy resources within the national energy system (Joel Darmstadter), and of the status and effects to date of state restructuring of electric power markets (Matthew Brown).

Two speakers addressed technical aspects of offshore wind power. The first focused on the nature and distribution of the US wind resource and what this implies for the technologies and locations that offer the most promise for economically viable wind power installations (Bruce Bailey). The second described the current state of wind power technology and the challenges facing efforts to design offshore installations for greater water depths (Muhamed Ali). Another speaker presented a method for valuing wind power that takes into account the stochastic nature of the wind resource and the value of clean air (Michael Beenstock).

The session also included talks on the wind energy policies and cost experiences of several European countries, their installed base of land and ocean wind power facilities, and plans for capacity expansion (Steffen Nielsen); and the results of early studies of the environmental effects of European offshore wind farms on seabirds (Magella Guillemette), seals, and other marine organisms (Jan Sundberg).

Second Plenary Session: National Policy Considerations

chaired by Porter Hoagland

The second day's talks dealt with national policy considerations related to the siting of wind farms in the US coastal ocean. Two of the presentations covered the current and potential contributions and policy priority of wind power and other renewables within the broader contexts of US national energy policy (Jack Riggs) and climate change policy (Christopher Green).

Two speakers (Carolyn Elefant, Christine Godfrey) laid out the complex mosaic of state and federal laws, policies, regulations, and agencies with jurisdiction over the siting of offshore wind installations, none of which was designed with this particular ocean use and technology in mind. Another two speakers described the management and legal processes in place to govern access to and use of other public resources, with an emphasis on those governing offshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production (Walter Cruickshank), and facilities decommissioning and removal (Robert Labelle).

The final two talks provided in-depth accounts of the technical and political processes that have been followed for the siting of an operational land-based wind farm in Wales (UK) (David Kidner) and a proposed offshore wind farm off southwestern Long Island in New York (Dan Zaweski).

The talks were delivered before an audience of WHOI staff and students and about three dozen invited guests. Among the latter group were several WHOI Trustees and Corporators and representatives from the US Commission on Ocean Policy, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and the offices of US Representative William Delahunt and Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly.

The final half-day of the workshop consisted of a closed session in which MPC researchers and the invited speakers discussed several key policy questions relating to the design of a system of access to the US coastal ocean for wind power generation. The purpose of this session was to identify the major themes that emerged from the talks and any gaps in present knowledge that might suggest research needed to inform decisions about how best to manage offshore wind power as part of the nation's total energy supply.

MPC researchers are in the process of drafting a white paper based on the prepared talks and discussion. This paper will be reviewed and potentially augmented by all invited speakers prior to the release of a final version for general distribution. MPC researchers also expect to prepare a brief paper that highlights the key technical challenges and policy issues facing ocean wind power, to be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed, large-circulation journal.