Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Porter Hoagland

»Allocation of ocean space
»Aquaculture access system
»Aquatic nuisance species
»Archaeological Significance
»Deepsea fisheries
»Fisheries bycatch
»Harmful algal blooms (2)
»Harmful algal blooms (1)
»Land-based marine pollution
»Large marine ecosystems
»Linking economic and ecological models
»Marine protected areas
»Ocean Waste Disposal
»Ocean Wind Power
»Regional Governance
»Seabed Mining
»Seamount conservation
»UCR Management in Asia
»Whaling and ecotourism

P. Hoagland, Which way will the wind blow? Marine scientists have a key role to play in the debate over wind farms in the coastal ocean, Oceanus 42(3):56-59, 2004

Two centuries ago, citizens of the new American republic relied on the winds along their shores as an economic engine. Salt farms and gristmills dotted the coastline, their windmills tapping the sea breezes for energy. Today, Americans are looking to tap coastal winds again to fuel the modern economy, to reduce air pollution, and to mitigate global warming. Wind energy is the fastest-growing sector of the global electric power industry, and several companies have proposed to build large wind turbines and utility-scale electric power-generating facilities in the coastal waters of the United States. Such facilities could change the way people use the ocean, and the public is divided over the costs and benefits. The environmental and economic benefits of renewable, nonpolluting sources of energy are clear. But there may be side effects from the placement of modern wind farms in the ocean, including the degradation of seascapes, impacts on birds and marine animals, and the disruption of existing patterns of human use of the ocean. The laws and regulations related to the placement of wind turbines in the ocean are at best rudimentary and inchoate; at worst, they are non-existent. Marine scientists and engineers can make an important contribution to this growing public debate by clarifying our understanding of the nature of these side effects. They might also inform public policies that balance the value of various ocean resources with the rights and interests of all who wish to use them.

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