Georgia’s Offshore Wind Energy Potential Showcased at CoastFest

This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.

Guest Blog | October 15, 2013 | Energy Policy, Wind
Allie and Chris talk with festival attendees about Georgia’s offshore wind energy potential.

On October 5th, SACE attended CoastFest, an environmental festival hosted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Resources Division in Brunswick, Georgia. The festival featured over 70 environmental and educational exhibits and attracted thousands of attendees. Some of the interactive highlights included a 5,000-gallon aquarium tank, traditional Muskogee Creek Indian dances, and an up-close interaction with a bald eagle. During this celebration of Georgia’ natural resources, it was difficult to ignore the windy atmosphere as displays and pamphlets from exhibits were frequently blown off the tables. While an annoyance to exhibitors, SACE could not have picked a better place to showcase the massive wind energy potential right off the coast here in Georgia.

Offshore wind energy is a clean and inexhaustible resource that would reduce air pollution, provide greater energy security, and restore economic growth here in Georgia. A study from Geo-Marine, Inc. shows that Georgia has about 14.5 gigawatts of feasibly developed offshore wind energy potential–enough power to provide one-third of Georgia’s current electrical needs. Even though Georgia does not have any wind farms of its own yet, many companies have set up shop in our state to help service the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2011, there were between 500-1000 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Georgia. In addition, the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal is an important transportation hub for wind energy equipment. If the growth of the industry persists, the U.S. Department of Energy predicts that up to 20,000 manufacturing jobs could be created in Georgia by 2030. Imagine the increased local job opportunities if Georgia developed offshore wind farms along our own coast!

In addition to job creation, offshore wind energy could supply cost effective electricity for high electrical demand during the summertime. A recent report, published by SACE’s own Simon Mahan, shows that Georgia’s offshore and nearshore wind resources are positively correlated with peak electricity demand hours in June, July, and August. This is due to the sea breeze effect, a natural phenomenon that occurs in coastal areas when cool ocean air rushes inland to replace the warmer air that is rising—prominent during hot summer afternoons. While utilities– and thereby, utility customers– often pay a premium to provide electricity during peak demand hours, the sea breeze effect could allow reliable offshore and nearshore wind power to offset conventional, expensive peak power generation.

Georgia’s sea breeze would provide reliable peak wind generation when Georgia Power needs it most – during peak load hours on hot August afternoons.

At CoastFest, we were able to share this knowledge and interacted with many attendees who were enthusiastic about the benefits this energy source would provide. They showed their support by signing our petitions in favor of offshore wind energy, which will be shared with elected officials in the state to support policies that can make offshore wind energy a reality for our region. If you missed us at CoastFest, you can sign the online petition and show your support here.

Exhibitors at CoastFest brought awareness to Georgia’s precious natural resources and unique coastal culture. With offshore wind energy, we can help to preserve our costal region while providing environmental and economic opportunities for the state.

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