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Study finds strong winds off Lake Erie for turbine project  

Lake Erie winds are the strong est recorded anywhere in Ohio, good news for city leaders exploring whether Cleveland could be an interna tional hub for offshore wind power.

A two-year study of wind off downtown Cleveland’s shoreline found average speeds markedly stronger than those already turning wind turbines in Bowling Green, the nonprofit Green Energy Ohio reported Thursday.

GEO’s report is timely. On Tuesday, Cuyahoga County commissioners approved a $1 million study that will look at the costs and challenges of erecting a small wind farm on Lake Erie, as well as establishing a wind research, development and certification center here.

“This is the first measurement of offshore wind and the results are encouraging,” said Paul Oyaski, director of the county’s development department. “The results show not only the vitality of the offshore wind, but the viability of offshore wind power.”

With money from the Cleveland Foundation and other sources, GEO worked with the city in the summer of 2005 to erect a 165-foot-tall tower on the city’s water intake crib. It’s about 3½ miles off the downtown shore.

At 165 feet above the water, average winds registered at 16.4 mph.

That compares to average winds of 12.9 mph near Bowling Green, the only site in Ohio with commercial wind turbines.

GEO has monitored wind at 10 sites on land in Ohio. Lake Erie’s are the strongest. Experts say the winds would be even stronger farther out on the lake and at greater heights.

The GEO report “lays the foundation” for the 13-month feasibility study that is to begin shortly, Oyaski said.

The study was recommended by the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, composed of city, county, corporate and nonprofit leaders who believe Cleveland has the wind and manufacturing capacity to be a leading player in the fledgling market for offshore wind energy.

There are few wind turbines operating on the world’s waters, and none in fresh water, officials say.

As a demonstration project, the task force has proposed building up to 10 wind turbines in Lake Erie, generating power for up to 6,000 homes. GEO estimates that six, towering turbines – each more than 30 stories tall – could supply the same power given the strength of Lake Erie winds.

But a Lake Erie wind farm and research center are years and tens of millions of dollars in the making, officials say.

This week, the county hired a Germany-based renewable energy company that will delve into the regulatory, engineering, environmental and financial challenges of the project.

By Tom Breckenridge
Plain Dealer Reporter

The Plain Dealer

11 January 2008

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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