Maryland Offshore Wind Power

New Study Says 12,000 Turbines Could Go Offshore

By Sam Hopkins
Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

New research from Baltimore's Abell Foundation shows that offshore wind power installations could add greatly to Maryland's clean energy capacity in the next decade.

With a target of generating 20% of its electricity from clean renewable sources by 2022, Maryland's state government is looking not only to the mountains in the west of the state for wind power, but now also off the Eastern Shore.

This map from the Abell Foundation and Baltimore Sun shows how wind power developers can wade into the Atlantic:

maryland offshore wind power

Equipment requirements get more intense as one moves farther offshore. Longer pylons have to be assembled, and the metal they're made of needs to be sturdier in order to withstand open-ocean conditions. Interestingly, though, the most distant wind energy plans now being drawn up involve no pylons at all. 

Floating wind power turbines would be buoyed and connected enough to keep them from blowing over, and because of extreme depth pylons are pretty much out of the picture.

German engineering giant Siemens and Norwegian oil producer StatoilHydro installed the first fully functional floating wind turbine off Norway's coast last summer, with a ballast and cables tying the turbine stand to the ocean floor. Hywind, as the bobbing new cleantech model is called, can work in water from 400 to 2,200 feet deep.

2,200 feet is only 670 meters—not yet at the upper end of the Abell study, but that's plenty deep and far enough offshore to cause none of the visual intrusion that has stifled some wind projects in places like Massachusetts and California.

Abell researchers say that Maryland could scale up to 2,900 turbines within a 15-mile band 28 to 43 miles off the state's shore in time for the 20% by 2022 target, with enough space for up to 12,000 turbines to ultimately be installed farther out into the Atlantic.

-Sam Hopkins


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