Offshore wind experts to share information, gather feedback


The Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration, Sustainable Coastal Communities Initiative and Delaware Sea Grant at the University of Delaware are sponsoring offshore wind-power workshops as part of their “Focus on the Coast” seminar series.

The first workshop was set for June 27 in Rehoboth Beach, with a workshop also planned in Bethany Beach on July 12. The sessions are intended to create a space where community members can engage in a dialogue with experts and others so that they have informed conversations about how Delaware can best engage with offshore wind-energy development.

The workshops will cover a broad range of topics, including economic development opportunities and potential effects on tourism. The wind developers of the two wind farms off of the Delaware (and Maryland) coast will also be on hand to discuss project specifics.

With the discussion event, organizers said they hope not only to provide citizens with a better understanding of offshore wind power, but also to garner greater insight into community concerns and local citizens’ views and values.

On July 12, the Bethany Beach event will feature a panel of experts that will participate in a community discussion about the prospects of offshore wind in the region.

In August of 2017, Gov. John Carney signed an executive order establishing the Offshore Wind Working Group, a group committed to studying opportunities for how Delaware can benefit from the developing offshore wind power market along the Atlantic Coast. Additionally, there are currently two offshore wind projects moving forward in federal waters off of the Delaware beaches from Rehoboth down to Fenwick Island.

But despite all of these recent developments and plans for the future, many community members and local officials are unaware that these research groups and projects even exist, according to Delaware Sea Grant human-environment interaction specialist Jame McCray, who holds a doctorate in interdisciplinary ecology.

“Part of Delaware Sea Grant’s mission is to be a link between coastal communities and scientists studying relevant social and environmental topics,” McCray said. “We felt it was important to host this information exchange because if communities and researchers don’t connect, then neither group will have a complete picture of the issue. I see this workshop as one way to have that rich conversation about what Delawareans want for the future.”

Workshop organizer Bonnie Ram, associate director of the Center for Carbon-Free Power Integration, has been working on a range of environment and energy issues for decades, and following environmental and community analyses of offshore wind since 2001. She explained that wind technology works well on land and even better at sea, while costs continue to decline significantly.

“The clean energy transition is happening all around the world as renewable technologies get more efficient and cost-competitive. Utilities and communities are realizing some of the benefits,” Ram remarked, “So what’s holding us back from a more rapid evolution to a low-carbon electricity grid in Delaware? We know that policies are important, but underlying these mechanisms is the need to inform and involve local communities early in the decision-making process.”

The Bethany Beach event will be held July 12 at the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites from 8 a.m. to noon.

The workshops are free to attend, but due to limited seating, advanced registration is required, by June 23. To register online or for more information, interested parties can visit the Delaware Sea Grant website at https://www.deseagrant.org/events-all/2018/7/12/offshore-wind-workshop-b....