Climate change is a fact. Science tells us that atmospheric conditions known as greenhouse gases from human activity are the cause. Electricity production generates about a quarter of emissions, trailing only transportation. This is why last week’s Public Service Commission approval of a key component of the planned South Fork Wind farm is so important. The project would be the first large-scale offshore wind power source in the United States (up to three times the size of Block Island Wind, which came online in 2016), paving the way for more and larger turbine installations.
Though alternatives, such as land-based wind farms and giant solar arrays, exist, South Fork Wind and others in planning stages represent a market-based solution to the crisis of climate change. Corporations have chosen to invest in offshore wind power, putting their money toward what they consider the best available option. East Hampton Town’s only public attempts at land-based generation, solar, took over land that might more effectively be used for helping with the local housing crisis. Solar farms in the Town of Riverhead have been met with community opposition.
The potential for offshore wind power is enormous. Winds are stronger and more consistent at sea than on land. The United States Department of Energy calculates that more than 2,000 gigawatts could be created in state and federal waters and on the Great Lakes — about twice the generating capacity of all U.S. electric power plants combined. And coastal cities and communities are huge consumers of electricity; placing turbines relatively close to where the power is needed is a plus.
Over time, as more offshore wind power is added to the grid, the production cost savings advantage over fossil fuel-generated power becomes significant, according to government estimates. In addition, as more electric vehicles are put on the road, the double effect of eliminating tailpipe emissions while reducing the need for nonrenewable traditional power will be a net positive in the fight against climate change