You are here: Icebreaker FAQ

Energy

What is the comparison between Cleveland’s wind speeds to hurricane winds?

A hurricane’s wind speeds exceed 73 mph, while Ohio waters average15-20 mph. See a national wind map to see how Northern Ohio’s wind compares to the rest of offshore in the U.S. Source: Wind Powering America

 

How does wind help reduce reliance on foreign sources of power?

The future of energy will likely involve greater electrification of vehicles and more vehicles running on natural gas, to reduce our country’s reliance on oil, an increasing share of which is imported. 

As vehicles require more electricity, more electricity will need to be generated – and given the environmental issues associated with coal-fired generation (leading many old coal power plants to be retired), there will be increasing demands for new electricity generation to be built. 

In the wake of Fukushima, new nuclear generation will be politically difficult to construct.  While coal is abundant and currently inexpensive, power companies are reluctant to commit to this option because of the environmental liabilities and associated economic risks.  While natural gas is increasingly viewed as abundant, it may well be more valuable to utilize incremental new gas supplies for vehicles to displace oil.  Thus, we will need as much new clean electricity generation as reasonably possible – and offshore wind can be a very significant (though not necessarily dominant) component of this future energy system.
 

What if the wind changes direction?

In our area, the wind predominantly comes from the Southwest.  When the wind direction does change, turbines accommodate for this variability by changing direction (yawing) so that they always face into the wind.
 

Wind is intermittent, so how is it reliable?

This issue is far more complicated than opponents of wind energy generally make it out to be. Because of the way the electricity network is planned, there is no need to back up every megawatt of wind energy with a megawatt of fossil fuel or other power. No power plant or source is 100% reliable and therefore all networks have enough spare capacity available to deal with disconnections, breakdowns and sudden surges in demand. Wind energy can be forecasted with a great deal of precision. Therefore, it is the grid operator who needs to constantly match the electricity generation available to electricity demand, and wind energy’s variability is just one more variable in the mix. Source: http://bit.ly/iiOB5D

A large interconnected grid like ours can accommodate up to 20% of its electricity supply from intermittent sources like wind energy.  By contrast, the U.S. obtains just a few percent of its electricity from wind – and in the Ohio area, virtually none of its power from wind – so there is ample headroom for the grid to absorb a considerable addition of new wind energy resources.

More on load capacity and efficiency here.  

 

Why would the region accept more expensive forms of electricity when coal and nuclear have demonstrated more cost effectiveness?

There is no interest by LEEDCo or its partners in creating an industry than cannot become competitive with other sources of energy.  We believe offshore wind will be competitive with wholesale power markets on our regional grid in a decade or so.  The experience of virtually all forms of energy – oil, coal, nuclear, etc. – was that they were economically uncompetitive at first and rapidly achieved cost reductions as they grew in the marketplace.

When onshore wind energy was just beginning to enter the marketplace about thirty years ago, it cost $0.40/ kWh.  Today’s wind power economics of about $0.05/kWh represents a decrease by roughly a factor of 10.  Offshore wind remains very immature and subscale, so a cost decrease of 50% is not unreasonable to expect. 

The purpose of developing this initial offshore wind project, in spite of its above-market cost per kWh, is to plant the seeds for a new local industry that can employ thousands of people when mature.  Being first with offshore wind in the Great Lakes significantly enhances the prospects for our region to capture more than its proportional share of the industrial activity (for the entire Great Lakes) as the offshore wind market blooms in the coming decade. This initial project is merely an initial investment to buy an option to become the leader in the industry. The economic benefits associated with the future industrial activity – jobs, tax base, small business creation – should far outweigh the upfront investment in the above-market cost of the power associated with early offshore wind turbine deployment.

 

Icebreaker Wind Supply Chain Opportunites

 Want to get listed for supply chain opportuntities? Please click here.


 Thank you to all that attended our first Icebreaker Wind Supply Chain Open House.  

Please click here for the Supply Chain Open House presentation.

Please click here for Supply Chain Open House posters.

 

 

LEEDCo Power Pledge