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Report Finds That Years of Planning and Proper Site Review Pays Off in Denmark Offshore Wind Energy Development  

HYANNIS, MASSACHUSETTS, Dec. 5 -/E-Wire/– A new report based on seven years of environmental monitoring of two Danish wind energy projects underscores the importance of choosing the right sites after a thorough assessment of potential impacts posed by those sites to birds, fish and marine wildlife such as seals and porpoises,” said Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound Executive Director, Susan Nickerson, who attended a conference in Denmark for the release of the report titled “Danish Offshore Wind ““ Key Environmental Issues.”

“It’s a very different process there,” she said. “The government has developed a broad national energy policy, and offshore wind is one part of that policy. The Danes spent considerable time figuring out how and where to site these projects so they would cause the least amount of environmental or economic harm,” said Nickerson. “The process around the Cape Wind project could not be in more stark contrast. We don’t have a national energy policy, or a national renewable energy strategy. We have one developer with one site. And, Cape Wind’s siting criteria was purely economic, not environmental. These processes could not be more different.”

“Even as Denmark has embarked on what is considered the most aggressive national effort in developing offshore wind, the Danes have also deemed certain coastal areas off-limits to wind turbines,” Nickerson said. Both the Danish government, which drives the development process, and the EU have declared “Special Protection Areas” to protect wild birds and to maintain marine habitat areas in Danish waters.

Nickerson said that the Danish model should be applied to the U.S. entry into offshore wind because it emphasizes broad public consultation in identifying and planning development of appropriate offshore wind sites and takes into consideration the placement of wind complexes so as to avoid environmental or economic harm. In the executive summary of the report, authors wrote that: “Danish experience for the past 15 years shows that offshore wind farms, if placed right, can be engineered and operated without significant damage to the marine environment and vulnerable species.” -more-

2. “The most important phrase in that sentence,” said Nickerson, “was if placed right. Applying that yardstick to Cape Wind, we cannot equate the Danish experience with our experience here on Cape Cod. Cape Wind picked a site that was most advantageous to them regardless of environmental or economic impact while the Danes made informed siting decisions in advance of development.” Nickerson noted that, while the generally favorable environmental report on the basis of seven years of study is encouraging, the Danish report does post warning signs for development of offshore wind in U.S. waters, which can be applied to Nantucket Sound. Among its findings:

“Offshore wind farms represent the single most extensive industrial infrastructural development in the marine environment to date, and the erection of tall towers supporting rotating blades presents three types of hazards to birds at sea.” (page 95 of the report).

a) “First, they can present a barrier to movement of migrating or feeding birds.”

b) “Secondly, there may be physical habitat loss, as a food resource is buried under the foundations, or lost below anti-scour protection associated with the wind farm structures.”

c) “Finally, if birds do not show avoidance behaviours, there is a potential risk of collisions with the turbines.” Nickerson stressed a key take-home message from the Danish conference is that the government’s role in development of the industry there resulted in specific sites of high environmental sensitivity being excluded even while advancing a successful offshore wind industry. “The irony for Cape Wind is that Nantucket Sound is very likely an area that would merit exclusion, not merely for birds, but for other wildlife and for a multitude of other considerations that have to do with navigation risk, the threat posed by these turbines to radar, commercial fishing, economic impacts, visual impacts and recreational boating,” said Nickerson.

/SOURCE:
Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound
-0-
12-05-2006
/CONTACT:
Jim Power, Jr. Director of Communications Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound Tel: 508.775.9767 Cell: 508.367.8058 jpower@saveoursound.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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