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New Wind In The Sails of Offshore Wind Advocates?

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WAMU Environment Reporter Sabri Ben-Achour spoke with Professor Willett Kempton, director of the  University of Delaware’s Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, about the wind resource sitting off of Maryland's shore.
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WAMU Environment Reporter Sabri Ben-Achour spoke with Professor Willett Kempton, director of the University of Delaware’s Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, about the wind resource sitting off of Maryland's shore.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is making a big push for wind power this legislative session. And his effort is getting some unexpected help from the University of Delaware, where research has found offshore wind power could cover the state's entire energy needs -- and then some -- if Maryland makes a massive investment in this form of energy. Environment Reporter Sabri Ben-Achour spoke with Professor Willett Kempton, director of the University of Delaware's Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, about the wind resource sitting off of Maryland's shore. Following are highlights of their conversation.

Kempton on how much wind energy there is off of Maryland's coast: "There's enough energy to provide an average of 14,000 Megawatts of electricity, which is about 189 percent of the state's need for electricity."

Kempton on how today's knowledge of wind energy differs from previous assumptions: "If you look at the wind maps produced for the United States ten years ago, they show where the wind is in all the 50 states, and all the wind maps stop at the coast so it appears as if there's just blue out there and no assessment of the wind resource at all."

Kempton on how much wind energy will cost consumers: "Well today just roughly speaking offshore wind is about one and a half times the cost of old electricity that's coming from plants we use today. That is expected to decline in the same way that other technologies do. In some windy areas in the west, building new wind generation is actually cheaper than fossil fuel because there's so much wind.... But in this region especially with offshore, it's going to cost more than fossil fuel electricity given current prices for fossil fuel electricity. Now those kind of numbers are really kind of arbitrary because you're really comparing the price of an apple with the price of an orange here. Our current electricity system, we have to buy fuel, so we don't really know what electricity is going to cost next year because we don't know what the cost of fuel is gonna be."

Listen to the full interview here.


[Music: "Summer Wind" by Lyle Lovett from For Love of the Game]

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