The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation of Northern Ohio has partnered with GE to develop one of the first freshwater wind farms in the U.S. The project will consist of 5, 4-MW direct drive offshore turbines, for a total of 20 MW in the waters of Lake Erie. Construction on the initial phase is tentatively scheduled to commence in late 2012. By 2020, LEEDCo aims to see 1,000 MW of renewable electricity being generated from lake winds and believes the economies of scale that can be obtained when building such large projects will reduce the cost of that energy to attractive levels. The project is step one of a 10-year plan to build more than 200 turbines in the lake by 2020.
Yet, of course, there are obstacles to overcome in the process. An article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes some of these hurdles.
For one thing, financing has to be worked out, but state and federal tax credits and possibly loans or grants would be needed. Approval from at least 16 federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is also needed.
Some are also concerned that the turbines will harm birds and bats. The proposed site will need a four-mile radius of air space in which few if any birds have been detected. The article states that other problems include, how to anchor the towers in Lake Erie, how to get the power to shore, and the impact of winter ice.
It seems every wind project has obstacles to overcome, especially as our nation explores offshore development. Does the Great Lakes project have a chance of overcoming its obstacles? How?