Published: 21 May 2014 21 May 2014
Rerouting ships to open up areas for offshore wind development could save billions of dollars in construction and operating costs for the renewable energy source, according to new findings by the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).
The analysis was part of an economic study on societal costs and benefits of allocating ocean space off the coast for wind energy development. The team considered several hypothetical, large-scale offshore wind projects that could be built in the Mid-Atlantic region. Based on current shipping data, researchers considered deep-draft vessels that make approximately 1,500 trips between New Jersey, New York, Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay ports each year. In one scenario, ships travelled at their present distance of about 33 miles from shore and wind projects were built beyond that. In a second scenario, ships travelled 46 miles from shore and wind projects were built where the ships used to go. Researchers calculated the added cost of having ships travel farther by considering capital, fuel and operating costs and cost to society of emissions of CO2, NOx, SOx, and particulate matter emitted during ships’ voyages. The cost of offshore wind projects included capital costs of foundations, transmission cables and installation, as well as the cost of maintaining the turbines. Directing ships farther out from shore added US$ 0.2 billion to the cost of their voyages over the course of three decades. This would increase the direct cost of transporting a metric ton of goods by 25 cents. Building wind turbines farther out beyond the shipping routes added a cost of US$ 13.4 billion to the cost of projects. Overall, the savings from changing the routes would add up to US$ 13.2 billion.