UD's Kempton a featured speaker at Offshore Wind Power workshop
Willett Kempton, associate professor of marine policy: “Comparing apples to apples, we’ve got approximately five times more wind power in the region than oil and gas; and after 20 years, the oil and gas will all be burned up but the wind will still be blowing.”
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11:15 a.m., Sept. 11, 2008----
Willett Kempton, associate professor of marine policy at UD, was one of several featured speakers at a two-day workshop on Delaware's offshore wind power project, held Sept. 9-10 at the Doubletree Hotel in Wilmington, Del.

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The event, which was sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association to promote the environmental benefits and economic opportunities of offshore wind power, drew experts from government, corporate and academic sectors from the East and West coasts. In addition to Kempton, the University was represented by President Patrick Harker, who gave the opening remarks on Tuesday, and Jeremy Firestone, associate professor of marine and Earth studies and legal studies at UD, who addressed the issue of community acceptance.

Kempton quoted impressive numbers in addressing the potential of offshore wind power in the Mid-Atlantic region and used data collected from buoy readings, satellite maps and electricity generators to make his case.

Joined by Bruce Bailey, president and chief executive officer of Associated Weather Services TrueWind; Mike Dvorak, a research assistant at Stanford University; and Daniel Mendelsohn, Northeast regional director of Applied Technology and Management Inc., Kempton spoke about existing projects in the Mid-Atlantic region--the wind farm in Atlantic City and the Bluewater Wind $1.6 billion planned land investment--and augmented his presentation with slides of wind maps, buoy readings and electricity usage statistics and projections.

“Delaware buoys have a 20-year time record and very high time resolution,” said Kempton, addressing the question of whether onshore or offshore wind power has greater potential, “and it's very clear from buoy readings in the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay that onland sites have less wind resource than ones out in the ocean.

“Maps showing both land and ocean winds are incredibly effective in communicating with state decision-makers,” Kempton said, “because while onshore wind is cheaper, there's not very much of it, and if you really want to get significant carbon reduction in this region, you'll have to build offshore wind.”

Kempton also addressed the issue of load match--optimally balancing peaks of demand with peaks of generation--and said that while load match is better on land, resources are better offshore. He then specifically addressed Delaware's energy needs and what offshore wind turbines along its coast would provide, allowing for the placement stipulations of staying away from tourist beaches, shipping lanes, bird migration routes, toxic disposal sites and water too deep.

“When you allow for all these variables,” Kempton said, “the bottom line is that the average production--not capacity--is 7,000 megawatts--seven gigawatts--which compares with Delaware's average load of 1.3 gigawatts. That's a tremendous amount of electricity potential.”

Addressing the audience of approximately 450 wind business executives, utility officials, policy specialists, environmentalists and government officials, Kempton made the point that while the potential is exciting, the actual plan is conservative--and incremental.

“This just gives you a starting point,” he said. “We're not doing the whole thing at once. We're doing it in projects and we have a real project proposed in Delaware. The power purchase agreement is a little more than 200 megawatts, but the state has authorized up to 600 megawatts if they find customers in the next two years.”

To give a sense of the project's reach, Kempton quoted projections, saying that at a 39 percent capacity factor, there would be an output of 234 megawatts, or 17 percent of Delaware's electricity load.

“One project,” he said, “with a two-year build, would knock 17 percent of the state's electric generation off carbon. Let's just say we started building cars that ran on electricity: That one wind project would run half the cars in the state; two Bluewater Wind projects would entirely knock out the need for gasoline in the state; and one project uses just 3 percent of our offshore wind resources.”

Kempton stretched the resource estimate to a wider area, adding that turbine placement at water depths down to 100 meters would generate 330 gigawatts of electricity and that placement of turbines along the Northeast's coastline could run all electricity, all cars and all building heat using just two-thirds of the wind resources available and reducing the region's CO2 demand by 68 percent--about what is needed to forestall climate change.

“How does that compare to offshore oil and gas in the outer continental shelf of the Atlantic?” he asked. “Comparing apples to apples, we've got approximately five times more wind power in the region than oil and gas; and after 20 years, the oil and gas will all be burned up but the wind will still be blowing.”

Kempton closed his remarks by addressing the region's 2 percent load growth each year. To meet load growth would require one 600-megawatt project per year, creating 1,000 permanent construction jobs, he said. Eventually, old fossil-fuel generators will need to be replaced, calling for more wind project construction.

Kempton, who is active in the V2G (electric vehicles for Vehicle to Grid power) venture at UD, as well as the National Science Foundation-affiliated Identity and Environmental Action project that tracks citizen involvement in the environmental movement, has published more than 25 articles, books and academic papers on issues related to environmental policy.

His courses at UD include Environmental Values, Movements and Policy; Conservation and Renewable Energy Policy; Research Design and Methods; and Environment, Development and Human Values.

To read more about UD's involvement with offshore wind power, go to [www.ocean.udel.edu/windpower].

Article by Becca Hutchinson
Photos by Amber Alexander