First Potential Offshore Wind Farm in U.S. Survives Koch-backed Lawsuit, But Faces Another
It's been an active week in court for what could eventually be the nation's first offshore wind farm.
First, the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) approval of a wind farm to be constructed off the shores of Cape Cod. The FAA in 2012 approved the $2.6 billion Cape Wind farm, ruling that it would not present a hazard to air traffic.
Wednesday's decision marked the 12th victory for developers Cape Wind and NSTAR against opponents in court.
The farm's biggest rivals are The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and a group of residents from Barnstable, MA. Billionaire Bill Koch—who once referred to the project as "visual pollution"—told Commonwealth Magazine last year that he has given $5 million to the Alliance as part of a strategy to delay Cape Wind.
“The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the Town of Barnstable and their financial backer—coal billionaire Bill Koch—have failed yet again in their continuing campaign to use the courts to delay the financing of Cape Wind,” Cape Wind Communications Director Mark Rodgers said. “The court’s definitive decision is an important legal victory that brings America that much closer to launching its offshore wind industry, a keystone in America’s renewable energy future.”
However, officials at Cape Wind and NSTAR knew they were faced with yet another Koch-backed lawsuit before they celebrated Wednesday's decision. According to The Associated Press, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Barnstable and several Cape Cod businesses filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against project developers and Massachusetts regulators alleging that the state discriminated against out-of-state power companies by brokering the deal between utility NSTAR and Cape Wind. The plaintiffs say that deal will drive up electricity costs.
Cape Wind is slated to host 130 turbines for a potential output of 468 megawatts (MW). That amount is enough to power 75 percent of Cape Cod and the Islands.
Cape Wind reached power purchase agreements with National Grid and NSTAR between 2010 and 2012. The lawsuit alleges that state regulators violated the Federal Power Act and Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by setting wholesale rates for the contracts. That act is typically reserved for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Rodgers said the complaint was "frivolous and without merit."
“We understand the need for green sources of energy, but it is unfair to be forced to pay three times the cost of other green energy for Cape Wind,” Joe Keller, an Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound fundraiser and real estate broker whose company is listed on the lawsuit, said in a statement from the Alliance.
During the 2008 election, 87 percent of the voters in 11 towns voiced approval of the project. However, Keller told a very different story in a 2013 Letter to the Editor of Commonwealth, saying wind turbines would negatively impact the quality of life and real estate values.
"Ten years ago, I told my wife, Devonia, that if Cape Wind gets built, it signals the end of the dream of Cape Cod living which originally brought us here," Keller wrote. "We feel very strongly that, although alternative energy is hugely important, this is the wrong place for it!
"When we stand on the tee of hole 15 at Hyannisport or pull out of Osterville Harbor on a beautiful day, the last vision we will want to see and hear are 130 turbine towers."
A joint report released Jan. 9 by the University of Connecticut and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory states that the entities found "no evidence that wind turbines affect property values." They used Massachusetts as the subject of the study.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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