Today’s Solutions: June 29, 2022

While Europe has 105 offshore wind farms, the US currently has only one up and running. But according to the U.S. Department of Energy, Americans shores have enough wind blowing to produce more than 2,000 gigawatts of power, or nearly double the nation’s current electricity use.

In what is, hopefully, the first of many, legislators in Ohio have approved plans to build an offshore wind farm.

On what coast, you might be asking? The plan is to construct a six-turbine farm off the Lake Erie shore near downtown Cleveland. 

On Thursday, the Ohio Power Siting Board unanimously approved the Icebreaker wind project. The wind farm will include a 12-mile long submerged cable to transmit the electricity generated by the wind turbines to the Cleveland power substation. If constructed, the Icebreaker farm would be the first freshwater offshore wind farm in North America. In total, there are only five freshwater offshore wind farms in the world, owing to the challenges posed by winter ice that’s not an issue in saltwater-based offshore wind farms. 

The new turbines—which could generate 20.7 megawatts of energy or enough to power 7,000 homes—will have to withstand the force of ice sheets that form on the Great Lakes each winter and can get pushed around by strong winds. After years of developers considering different methods, the Icebreaker farm settled on a design with large inverted cones on the towers at the water level that would push the ice down and away from the turbines. If the technology works, it could be used at other freshwater wind farms.

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