It seems that the project proposed by Bluewater Wind to place wind turbines off the Delaware coast is heading toward approval and may well be expanded and extended to the Maryland coast off of Ocean City. Governor Martin O'Malley expressed his support for the Delaware project yesterday and indicated he would not be opposed to extending the project to Maryland.
The project would certainly be good for the Shore, which suffers from a lack of generation and transmission facilities. The electricity, while costly compared to existing generating facilities might be comparable in cost to that from a new coal plant.
The one problem with wind energy, which I have referred to before, is the inherent variability of wind energy as a dependable power source. Most wind turbines generate electricity at full capacity only when the wind is blowing at about 15 mph or more. Wind itself is highly variable on an hourly, daily and seasonal basis.
The graph at left shows the actual energy generated by the wind turbine at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne over the last month. The variability is clear. You can see real time data for this installation on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis here. A wind farm of the size proposed would almost certainly require a backup natural gas generation facility at a substantial additional cost to provide power on the days when the wind doesn't blow hard enough.
Another factor, of course, is that the peak electricity demand in Maryland and neighboring states is in the summer while the wind here is stronger and more consistent in the winter.
Despite these issues, though, the proposal is a welcome one and I'm glad to see it getting support from the Governor. While some might complain that the turbines, which would be barely visible from the beach, are unsightly, They would certainly be better than the sight of oil derricks and the associated environmental problems that President Bush favors. I look forward to seeing more progress like this.