Long Island May Become Home to Nation's Largest Wind Farm
The nation's largest offshore wind energy project is just one approval away from coming to fruition.
The Long Island Power Authority's (LIPA) board of directors will meet July 20 to approve Deepwater Wind's 90-megawatt, 15-turbine wind farm, according to Politico. Turbines would be placed 30 miles offshore—over the horizon and out of sight from land—and could provide energy to Long Island customers by the end of 2022.
London Array is the world's biggest offshore wind farm located in the outer Thames Estuary of the U.K. The farm consists of 175 Siemens 3.6MW turbines. Photo credit: Xcite Fun
"This is the first in New York, it's the largest to date, but we're looking at this and seeing a tremendous offshore wind resource that will be developed and it's not the last," Deepwater Wind CEO Thomas Falcone told the AP. "I think this is a very big step ... for New York, but also for the United States."
Deepwater Wind's Long Island project got a major boost today when New York Gov. Cuomo announced his support for the planned wind farm. In a statement, Cuomo said:
The LIPA Board of Trustees Wednesday will consider advancing the development of the nation's largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Long Island. I strongly encourage the Trustees to once again demonstrate New York's leadership on climate change and help achieve the state's ambitious goal of supplying 50 percent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
Investing in New York's clean energy economy strengthens our communities by providing access to clean, affordable power and good quality green jobs. Next week marks another opportunity for this state to lead the nation in creating a stronger, more resilient energy system and protecting the environment for future generations.
The Sierra Club applauded Cuomo's announcement. Lisa Dix, the organization's senior New York representative, said:
This announcement is the first step toward a bold, long-term, large-scale offshore wind program for New York and catapults New York to the forefront of America's clean energy economy. Today was the result of years of hard work by concerned citizens across the island and around the state that understand that offshore wind is essential to moving New York to a 100 percent clean energy future, while protecting our wildlife, environment and coastal communities from the devastating impacts of climate disruption.
Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island-based company, is currently building the nation's first offshore wind farm near Block Island, Rhode Island. The 30-megawatt, 5-turbine project farm is expected to go online later this year, the Providence Journal reported.
.@AWEA: U.S. #Wind Energy Blew Away Records in 2015 https://t.co/q2rVDJtA0y @VanJones68 @sierraclub @ClimateReality https://t.co/DmsG8INriv— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1460642006.0
Falcone said because the Long Island and Block Island projects are located in the same federally-approved waters, construction on the Long Island farm could be expedited to meet the plan's deadline.
"There's already construction going on there," he said. "It's in the same area."
The Long Island project would produce enough energy to power 50,000 homes in the Hamptons, the Providence Journal said.
Deepwater Wind's plan also includes the construction of two battery energy storage facilities that the Long Island Power Authority can use at peak demand for electricity. General Electric would design and install the facilities.
"Not only will the project reduce air pollution emissions on Long Island, but it'll also defer the need to build costly new power plants and transmission systems on the South Fork," then-Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said when announcing the proposal last year.
Wind turbines in the Nysted Wind Facility, located 8-12 miles offshore Denmark, are arranged to take advantage of prevailing winds. Turbine spacing is carefully designed to maximize cost efficiency and power production.Photo credit: Bureau of Ocean Energy Managment
The Long Island project is just one of a number being considered in the Atlantic Ocean.
But, our nation's oceans aren't the only potential home for offshore wind farms. In June, Lake Erie Energy Development Co's (LEEDCo) "Icebreaker" project received a $40 million boost from the U.S. Department of Energy to build six 3.45-megawatt turbines in Lake Erie between 8 and 10 miles off the coast of Cleveland.
The U.S. lags behind other countries in utilizing this clean, renewable form of energy. 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.
World’s Largest Offshore Windfarm Will Power More Than 1 Million Homes https://t.co/z9iK4nrgYj @EWEA @ClimateReality https://t.co/Ph8U5980V3— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1454601128.0
Lorry Wagner, LEEDCo's president, told EcoWatch that political roadblocks are what's holding up the development of offshore wind as a viable energy source.
"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."
The U.S. has seen several proposals for offshore wind farms, the Providence Journal said, but none have come to fruition yet.
"Offshore wind needs to be a significant part of the energy mix," Heather Leibowitz, the director of Environment New York, said. "It is key to putting the Empire State on a path toward an economy powered entirely by renewable energy. The 90-megawatts of energy produced off east Montauk will get us one step closer to this goal.
"LIPA's approval of the project is key to meeting Governor Cuomo's interim goal of 50 percent clean energy within 15 years. Constructing the nation's largest offshore wind energy project is momentous and puts New York right where it should be—at the front of the pack. Accelerating our transition to pollution-free energy sources means cleaner air for families, less global warming pollution, more stable electricity bills, and a stronger economy."
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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