BY Mark Harrington
Newsday Staff Writer
September 1, 2006
Fifteen years after spinning its first offshore wind farm, Denmark is preparing to add 160 new turbines in the next two years, an adviser to the Copenhagen Environment and Energy office said last night.
Jens Larsen, a former director of the energy office who managed construction of several of the country’s six offshore wind-energy projects, said growth in offshore projects is accelerating beyond land-based projects.
Larsen visited Long Island yesterday at the behest of backers of the controversial 40-turbine wind farm proposed for the South Shore between Robert Moses State Park and Jones Beach.
Proponents say the project, with a price tag estimated at $400 million, is essential to get wind-energy projects rolling in this country and reduce global warming. Opponents say the 40 turbines proposed for Long Island waters are costly, inefficient and unsightly, and the money would be better spent overhauling and cleaning existing plants.
Larsen said Denmark has embraced wind farms, and he brushed aside concerns that the massive spinning blades lead to bird deaths, that the towers disturb fish habitats or that they are navigational hazards.
Richard Schary, an North Bellmore environmental activist who opposes the South Shore project, said issues in Denmark are irrelevant here. “We haven’t done the studies in this country,” he said. “It’s not the same environment, it’s got nothing to do with it.”
While saying that placement of the turbines in the waters off Copenhagen has actually reduced oil spill and navigational hazards by providing landmarks around hidden dangers, Larsen acknowledged that fishermen continue to object to the turbines.
Routine maintenance issues have come up with the turbines, he said, noting that one project required the replacement of 13 of 20 electrical transformers for an unspecified cost. Denmark, he said, expects the offshore turbines to last from 20 to 25 years.
Rather than lingering eyesores, Larsen said, the turbines have become a national source of pride. “It’s a green landmark for Copenhagen,” he said of one visible wind farm.
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