Offshore wind power offers a feasible way for Maryland to help meet its renewable energy goals, but it presents some economic and political hurdles, concludes a new study by the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER).
The report, ‘Maryland Offshore Wind Development,’ is an in-depth feasibility assessment of developing and operating wind farms in Maryland's coastal waters.
Among the study's key findings, offshore wind development will have to address two serious hurdles to move forward: likely interference with the NASA Wallops radar installation and military operations, and inadequate transmission facilities on Maryland's eastern shore that would raise the cost of moving the energy produced to the utility grids.
Last spring, Maryland officials notified the U.S. Department of the Interior of potential interest in wind turbine development in federal waters off the Maryland coast. Subsequently, the Maryland Energy Administration, with input from the Department of Natural Resources, commissioned the CIER study.
The study finds that offshore wind holds the potential to help Maryland meet both expected increases in electricity demand and renewable energy targets set by the legislature six years ago. Under these standards, one-fifth of the electricity sold in the state by 2022 must come from renewable sources.
Delivering energy produced by wind turbines in Maryland waters to the electric utility grid could be accomplished most economically in Delaware, according to the study. Previous studies found that connecting to the grid near Ocean City, Md., would cost an estimated 10 times more – about $200 million versus $20 million – than at Bethany Beach, Del.
SOURCE: The University of Maryland