Delaware Considers Possibly Investing in Offshore Wind Turbines

Source: By Brooke Reese, WBOC • Posted: Thursday, December 7, 2017

LEWES, Del.- While nothing official is on the table at this point, the state of Delaware is considering the possibilities for potential offshore wind options.

After the Maryland passed two federal regulation projects in Worcester County for offshore wind farms, now Delaware is taking the first steps to seeing if it could also benefit from the renewable energy source.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control hosted a public comment meeting at the Lewes Public Library on Tuesday night to hear what some community members had to say about the possibility.  Some DNREC members are a part of a offshore wind working group comprised of other state leaders, legislators, etc.

University of Delaware Senior Researcher Bonnie Ram has been studying offshore wind energy since 2001.  She says the turbines give the state an opportunity to benefit economically.

“It’s a very competitive energy source and we see the cost coming down significantly for offshore wind,” Ram said.

But while some support the idea, others say saving money could cost lives.

“We’ve been looking into these for a number of years and just trying to get some data because there’s a distinct lack of empirical data as these wind farms pertaining to marine mammals and sea turtles,” said Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the MERR Institute.

Thurman said marine mammals depend on sound to navigate through migration paths.  Sea turtles are also migrating through the use of electromagnetic fields that would be disrupted if wind turbines were only 10-20 miles offshore. Thurman says seismic testing necessary to install these towers would be very disruptive to the marine life.

“It can be up to 205 decibels, which is beyond ear drums rupturing,” Thurman said. “And sound, of course, is magnified up to four times under the water. So that’s even more impactful on these sound-based animals that without sense of hearing cannot survive.”

Other issues those at the public comment brought up were those relating to visibility off the beaches affecting tourism and potential accidents with boats and oil tankers.

While there are no plans for Delaware to invest in offshore wind turbines right now, some community members hope the possibility reaches the state legislative session in January.