WEST MICHIGAN — An offshore wind farm located six miles off the shoreline in Lake Michigan would be visible from shore about 64 percent of the time, a report issued by a Grand Valley State University group has determined.
That is one of the highlights of the West Michigan Wind Assessment project team’s report released Wednesday by the university. The West Michigan Wind Assessment is a Michigan Sea Grant-funded project that is analyzing the benefits and challenges of wind energy development in coastal West Michigan.
In addition, the study determined that offshore wind turbines — with current technology — would likely need to be located within view of the shore because water depths in Lake Michigan increase rapidly from shore and that it is unlikely that any sound would reach the shore from turbines six miles away.
The study also referenced some of the advantages — more consistent wind and where noise is less likely to disturb people — and some of the disadvantages — public acceptance and construction costs.
“We found there are different expectations and uses of the shoreline, from power plants to recreation to relaxation,” said Erik Nordman, principal investigator of the project and GVSU assistant professor of biology. “This information can help open up a discussion to understand the different values of the Great Lakes and whether offshore wind energy is appropriate.”
West Michigan was home to a large public debate last year in response to a Norwegian company’s proposal to put large wind turbines off the coasts of Pentwater and Grand Haven. Mason and Oceana county commissioners voted down the proposal.