Motivated by the potential of capitalizing on a limitless energy source, as well as the associated upsurge of local businesses that come with it, the Virginia Beach wind farm initiative is progressing quickly.
With buy-in from federal, state and local officials, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms assembled an energy task force to assess alternative sources of energy production. Of those considered-including wind, solar, tidal, algae biomass, oil and gas–interest in wind energy seems to be gaining momentum.
Though four other US states have wind energy projects in the coffers, wind energy is the world’s fasting-growing carbon emission reducing energy source, so it stands to reason why it has existed in Europe for decades. Scheduled to be operational by 2012, what will be the world’s largest wind energy facility is currently under construction 12-miles off England’s Kent coast. The 341 wind turbines spanning over 90-miles is estimated to power approximately 750,000 homes.
The Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium (www.vcerc.org), created by the state two years ago to study and develop renewable technologies, is confident that the ocean breeze off the coast of Virginia Beach (averaging 10.4 mph) is ideal for wind energy generation. The consortium has proposed the erection of one 550-foot demonstration tower at Dam Neck to prove that there is ample wind there for power generation as well as the fact that the towers are constructed with the fortitude to withstand the marine weather there.
Though one proposal suggests that 200 off-shore energy producing wind turbines could meet as much as 20% of Virginia’s energy needs, there are remaining hurdles that must be overcome for the project to reach inception. Among those obstacles are questions pertaining to the durability of current deep water construction technology, safety and environmental concerns, the required transmission systems necessary to deliver power to population centers, and a realistic assessment of the danger to bird species.
Still, considering the rising cost and potential scarcity of fossil fuels, and more importantly the on-going detriment to our environment and natural resources posed by continued use of those resources, renewable energy is fast evolving from novel to necessary. The paradigm shift that is required to see the value of sustainable energy technology continues to occur and gain the attention of our legislators. Though the US continues to trail Europe in taking aggressive steps to ensure a greener planet, initiatives like those posed in Virginia Beach for potential wind power generation are very promising. Ultimately, preservation of our planet must be a priority that moves higher and higher up on the to-do list as an environmental world-consciousness continues to evolve.