Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Wind Power USA: First Offshore Wind Farm in the United States To Be Built in Georgia?

Southern Company and the Georgia Institute of Technology announced today that they will collaborate on the Southeast's first offshore wind power project off the coast of Savannah, Georgia.

In their press release the Southern Company have stated that the goal of the project is to determine if offshore wind power is a feasible and efficient renewable energy option for power generation. The project concept is expected to include three to five wind turbines that could generate 10 megawatts of power, enough to power about 2,500 homes.

"We remain interested in finding viable renewable energy options that can play a part in meeting the growing demands of our customers," said David Ratcliffe, president, chairman and CEO of Southern Company. "Our partnership with Georgia Tech presents us a unique opportunity to assess offshore wind power as a cost-effective option for generating power in our region."

The first step of the project, a design and conceptual engineering phase, will start in July using technical expertise from both Georgia Tech and Southern Company. The first phase of the project will evaluate various technology options for wind turbines, platforms/foundations, submarine cabling and grid interconnection. Detailed analyses of a site location and environmental regulations and jurisdictions, including permitting requirements, will also be determined.

The project is a continuation of research conducted by Georgia Tech's Strategic Energy Initiative, a research group devoted to testing both the scientific and economic feasibility of innovative technologies. The research was funded with a National Science Foundation grant focused on innovative energy options in the coastal Georgia region.

Though many discounted the Southeast as a possible site for offshore wind turbines, the Georgia Tech group, led by Dr. Sam Shelton, was able to prove that there may be enough wind for power generation by analyzing six years of wind data collected from Navy platforms located off the coast of Savannah. The strong westerly winds that blow along Georgia's coastal waters coupled with the technological advances seen in the last few decades make this offshore region the best site in the Southeast for an offshore wind demonstration project.

In addition to its plentiful wind, the area is also ideal for offshore wind because of its extensive area of shallow water at distances beyond the shoreline view, which could reduce building costs and avoid the challenges of building and operating wind turbines in deep-water.

The project also has the potential to be the first offshore wind project completed in the United States. There are only two other planned U.S. offshore wind projects, one near Fire Island and Long Island off the coast of New York and another between Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, but both are much larger than the Southern Co./Georgia Tech project and neither has been approved.

Georgia Institute of Technology Official Website

Southern Company Official Website

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