Cleveland Soon to Be Home to the Nation's First Offshore Wind Farm in Fresh Water
North America's first offshore freshwater wind project has received a $40 million boost from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
In somewhat of a surprise decision, the funding was awarded to Lake Erie Energy Development Co (LEEDCo) for its "Icebreaker" project, which consists of six 3.45-megawatt turbines located 8-10 miles off the coast of Cleveland.
The local wind power firm was chosen over Dominion Resources, which had proposed a two-turbine, 12-megawatt project off Virginia, and Principle Power, which had proposed a five-turbine, 30-megawatt project off Oregon. LEEDCo was previously considered one of the “alternate” projects.
According to Cleveland.com, "LEEDCo's decision to adopt the European-designed 'Mono Bucket' foundation, which eliminates pile driving in the bedrock below the lake bed, may have been crucial to the DOE's decision to fully fund the project."
A DOE analysis stated that the "innovative Mono Bucket foundation will reduce installation time, costs, and environmental impacts compared to traditional foundations that require pile driving. The Mono Bucket not only is a solution for the Great Lakes, but also has broader national applicability for offshore wind installations off the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts."
Lorry Wagner, LEEDCo’s president, told EcoWatch via email the team is "thrilled" to receive the federal award. "We always knew our project was a great one and over the last two years our progress demonstrated that," he said.
Offshore wind power generation is a resource begging to be tapped. The U.S., however, lags behind other countries in utilizing this clean, renewable form of energy. In the U.S., offshore wind has a projected 4,223 gigawatts of electric generating potential, with Lake Erie's waters alone accounting for more than 50 gigawatts of that power, as LEEDCo explained in an article.
According to Wagner, one reason why the U.S. has been slow in adopting offshore wind projects is due to political roadblocks.
"It always comes down to policy and we have not had much for offshore wind," he said. "It is also true that onshore has been so successful, that offshore tends to get lost in the big picture. It will take a combination of policy and successful projects that will enable the industry to take hold."
LEEDCo's Icebreaker is currently the only freshwater wind project in development in the U.S.
Wagner explained that freshwater is ideal for a wind farm since the turbines are not exposed to elements such as salt water corrosion, hurricanes or the associated large waves in oceanic waters.
He also noted that Lake Erie is ideal for the Icebreaker project because it has uniformly shallow waters and has plenty of wind.
"There are over 2 gigawatts of available interconnect along the Ohio shore and we have an incredible manufacturing base that can industrialize the industry," he said.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) announced the DOE's $40 million grant to LEEDCo late last month at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, with remarks from LEEDCo senior officials, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Bodish and other Cleveland officials.
“Lake Erie is the Saudi Arabia of wind, and today’s award should be a gusher for northern Ohio,” said Kaptur, who serves as the Ranking Member of the U.S. House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee. “This wind power project will begin to unleash Lake Erie’s full renewable power potential and contribute to creating a more competitive energy marketplace."
"This announcement today seems perfectly suited to Cleveland, the first city in America where the electric wind turbine was invented. With this announcement today, Cleveland carries American innovation forward in this new millennium," Kaptur said.
This is the fourth such award for LEEDCo. With the latest funding round, the non-profit will eventually receive nearly $51 million in federal support. The award money will go towards the design, manufacturing and construction phases of the Icebreaker as long as it continues to meet the DOE's requirements. The project's finish line is expected by the end of 2018.
LEEDCo has a 50-year lease from Ohio for its offshore project and is working to complete the remaining permits it needs from federal and state agencies. LEEDCo has secured a power purchase agreement for 65 percent of future output.
“The strength of the Icebreaker project, as opposed to its competitors, lies in LEEDCo’s commitment to leverage offshore wind energy with local Ohio-based jobs in the steel, construction and transportation industries,” Kaptur said. “This means local job possibilities beyond wind generation are on the horizon.”
Wagner told Cleveland.com that LEEDCo already has 15 local companies involved in the project and hopes to attract more, adding that fabrication and construction will create 500 jobs.
"Ultimately, we want to become the technology leader in the U.S. industry for offshore wind and environmental monitoring," Wagner told EcoWatch.
The DOE also awarded another $40 million to the University of Maine’s New England Aqua Ventus I, a floating, 12-megawatt wind project off Maine's shores.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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