UD professor testifies about offshore wind for legislative hearing
Willett Kempton


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9:53 a.m., Nov. 5, 2009----The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works recently held three days of hearings on the “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). The comprehensive climate change legislation includes a mandate to decrease the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, with an 83 percent reduction by 2050. It also outlines provisions for greenhouse gas trading.

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The hearings dealt with a wide range of considerations related to the bill, including its effect on the American coal industry, public transportation, and the cost of food. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Willett Kempton, University of Delaware professor of marine policy, provided testimony on carbon-free energy technologies with a focus on offshore wind energy.

According to research cited by Kempton, each region of the United States has at least one source of carbon-free power that exceeds the region's needs, is being produced commercially at utility scale, and is near cost competitive. Those sources include concentrating solar power in the Southwest and land-based wind power in the Great Plains.

Providing new information on offshore wind power, Kempton testified that there's a great deal of wind power that can be accessed by the country's coastal regions. The wind resource adjacent to the East Coast, Great Lakes, and Gulf and Pacific coasts is more than twice the power resource of all U.S. offshore oil.

“It's a very large resource,” he said, citing UD research to demonstrate for the committee that the offshore wind resource in the mid-Atlantic would be enough to meet all the electricity, transportation, and heating needs for the region -- while using just over half the resource.

He concluded by saying that the Kerry-Boxer bill, which aims to create incentives that lead to the development of new technologies for power with less or no release of carbon dioxide, can tip the economic balance toward such new technologies, which he said are important for the nation's economic growth.

Kempton, a professor in UD's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, is director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration and is often cited as an expert in the field of offshore wind technology.

A video of the hearing is available online at the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Web site, as is Kempton's written testimony in PDF format.