Dec 19, 2011

Protest reaches out to King Harald V re Norwegian plan to site ocean windpark off Maine.

South Portland, Maine. A long time Maine coastal conservation group has sent a letter to King Harold V. (Also attached as a pdf file.) The letter was sent December 10, 2011 following the December 8, 2011 meeting held by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in South Portland, Maine,where a plan by Statoil to build and install a floating ocean windpark 12 miles off the Maine coast was introduced.  (Meeting agenda here)   (Media coverage here )

The December 10, 2011 letter, signed by Penobscot Bay Watch executive director Ronald Huber, asks His Majesty to call for a moratorium on deepwater ocean windparks  "until after an international committee of oceanographers considers the implications of the findings of Norwegian researcher Göran Broström and others, and develops standards to ensure ichthyoplankton-safe placement of deepwater ocean wind parks."

"Our world is on the verge of intensive shallow and deepwater ocean wind development

off nearly every coastal nation," the coastal conservation group's leader wrote. "While deepwater wind energy extraction will help our species’ struggle to escape the carbon era, it must be introduced precautionarily, lest expensive mistakes be made in the first flurry of exploitation."

Huber cites a research study by 
Dr. Brostrom  of the Norwegian Meteorological Institute,  entitled  "On the influence of large wind farms on the upper ocean circulation." the report shows that energy extraction by ocean windmills can generate large localized upwellings of seawater beneath the ocean windmills, "sufficiently enough that the local ecosystem will most likely be strongly influenced by the presence of a wind farm."   (Göran Broström, Norwegian Meteorological  Institute, 2008) See also Brostrom 2009 powerpoint: Can Ocean Windmills affect the Climate?

Huber and others are concerned that the kilometers-wide water upwellings produced year round by deepwater wind parks could slow or divert the movement of fish and shellfish larvae using the  Gulf of Maine's natural coastal currents to migrate during their early lifestage as plankton.  See a short
simulation of lobster larvae being diverted away from the coast by the пропсоед Statoil windpark (Youtube) Huber said this could reduce the number of these young animals reaching their normal settling habitats off shore of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, where they grow to commercial maturity.

These can be long migrations. "Many of Maine’s lobsters, for example, originate in Canada’s Bay of Fundy," Huber wrote to the King, "while many of Maine’s atlantic bluefin tuna arise in the Gulf of Mexico."

Mr. Huber met with a prominent New England researcher at the December 8, 2011 meeting.   "I spoke with Professor Peter Jumars, head of the University of Maine's School of Marine Sciences." Huber said. "He said that it is possible that the four deepwater turbines that Statoil proposes installing off Maine could together extract enough wind energy  to trigger the upwelling effect that Dr Brostrom describes." 

Huber notes that the university's 2011 Maine Offshore Wind Report cites Goran Brostrom's study  five times as it considered its own DeepCwind deepwater wind park plan.

Unfortunately the University of Maine's oceanographers have been denied repeatedly when seeking funding to study potential water circulation effects of siting deepwater windfarms in the existing Gulf of Maine  water currents, according to Dr. Jumars. 

This is why a greater global effort needs to take place now Huber said. 
"Norway could start by   funding such water circulation research for this project off Maine." he said. "Nearly every coastal nation is interested in deepwater wind power; however, many of them also lack sufficient oceanographic institutions to make informed decisions. 

If Statoil wishes to lead the world's deepwater wind exploitation,
then it needs to think on the large scale, and underwrite the expenses of a global colloquium on this topic, Huber said. 

The Penobscot Bay Watch letter to King Harald notes His Majesty's familiarity with and support for deepwater windpower extraction, and asks him to be "the one who convenes this international colloquium". 

takes someone of the stature of King Harold as an energy leader to pull such a meeting together, Huber believes.

"We ask you as leader of your county, and as a world leader in ocean windpower development, to call for suspension of deepwater windpark licensing until such time as siting standards are developed that evaluate the impact of these proposals on existing water currents and ichthyoplankton."

The letter closes by stating  "Many who otherwise support ocean windparks will be grateful to you for your caution and foresightedness in ensuring that both seafood and electricity comes in abundance from the world’s oceans."


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