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Tidal energy better bet than wind farms

After reading the article “Professor: Wind projects could boost Maine’s economy” in the Jan. 23 Portland Press Herald, I do not understand why the University of Maine has not devoted more time and money from grants to further developing tidal power as an energy source.

The university has spent a tremendous amount of effort to promote wind energy, which is not nearly as efficient as, and much more costly than, tidal energy.

The $20 billion effort to build a wind farm 20 miles offshore, which professor Habib Dagher is proposing, needs greater thought. Half of this $20 billion would produce many more kilowatts if put toward tidal energy rather than wind farms. Any wind power development will have to be subsidized by Maine taxpayers and electric ratepayers for the next few decades.

Wind energy requires very expensive large towers on land, or platforms on the ocean, to support the turbines. If the proposed wind farm is 20 miles offshore, it will require laying undersea water cables to shore, another large construction expense. Wind does not blow consistently, and many times not at all.

Tidal power, on the other hand, relies on the rising and falling of the tides, which has been happening daily and consistently since the Earth began. Tidal-powered turbines are far more reliable than wind-powered turbines.

Tidal turbines are economical to maintain once installed under water, and the electricity output is completely predictable. The tremendous force that the water exerts compared to wind reduces the size of tidal turbines.

Tidal turbines placed on the ocean floor do not interfere with shipping lanes. Turbines could also be placed in Maine’s major rivers without obstructing river traffic.

I believe that our governor, legislators and Maine citizens should carefully weigh the merits of each system.

Fernand LaRochelle

retired mechanical engineer

Westbrook