The Frustrating Tale of Cape Wind May be Drawing to a Close
When looking at the top offshore wind farms in the world, one might notice a trend—namely that they’re all in Europe. The U.S. has yet to catch up with the massive industry in Europe and one of the main reasons why is exemplified in the Cape Wind project, which was hit with another major setback, potentially killing the project. Before we get to that, some brief background.
Most readers are probably familiar with the Cape Wind project, which is an offshore wind farm slated to be built on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The project has been underway for more than a decade, though progress has been slim to none. Cape Wind faced a lengthy approval process and faced tough opposition from a wide swath of opponents including then Senator John Kerry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The project has been stuck in bureaucratic limbo for some time now.
A full rundown of the history of the project can be found in the book Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Energy, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future or in the brief 2003 documentary “Wind Over Water.”
In Cape Wind, authors Robert Whitcomb and Wendy Williams argue that the project has been held up due to the powerful majority imposing its will over the masses. Seeing as how polls heavily favored moving forward with the project, they might not entirely be wrong—especially given this week’s events.
“After 13 years in the making, the battle to install a wind farm the waters off Cape Cod could soon be over, and opponents appear to be on the winning side,” reported Sean Corcoran of NPR. “Two of the project's biggest customers, NSTAR and National Grid–the utilities poised by nearly 80 percent of Cape Winds expected electricity–announced Tuesday that they're backing out of their purchasing contracts.”
The project did not meet a December 31st construction deadline, though Cape Wind spokesperson Mark Rodgers told Corcoran that this was unavoidable, citing the opposition from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket sound as a major hindering factor.
“And he includes in that blame the Alliance's greatest support, businessman Bill Koch,” Corcoran added, “who'd be able to see the turbines from the windows of his Cape Cod vacation home.”
Rodgers offers an honest take on the situation, calling it a “travesty” that a Koch-funded special interest group can kill such an important project.
Former Massachusetts energy official Ian Bowles, who has been a major supporter of the project and helped it through the brambles of the approval process, said the potential end of Cape Wind could spell trouble for other offshore wind initiatives. Bowles noted the U.S.’s lack of progress compared to Europe, where they have “a hundred Cape Winds in the U.K. and other countries.”
“You know,” he added, “I do think it tends to delay the growth and development of an offshore wind industry, you know, in the United States.”
The question for Cape Wind is if someone is willing to pick up the project and make it happen. Unfortunately, the future for U.S. offshore wind isn’t exactly bright, and that’s perhaps the most frustrating thing of all.
Trafigura and Yara International explore clean ammonia usage
Reducing shipping emissions is a vital component of the fight against global climate change, yet Greenhouse Gas emissions from the global maritime sector are increasing - and at odds with the IMO's strategy to cut absolute emissions by at least 50% by 2050.
How more than 70,000 ships can decrease their reliance on carbon-based sources is one of transport's most pressing decarbonisation challenges.
Yara and Trafigura intend to collaborate on initiatives that will establish themselves in the clean ammonia value chain. Under the MoU announced today, Trafigura and Yara intend to work together in the following areas:
- The supply of clean ammonia by Yara to Trafigura Group companies
- Exploration of joint R&D initiatives for clean ammonia application as a marine fuel
- Development of new clean ammonia assets including marine fuel infrastructure and market opportunities
Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, President of Yara Clean Ammonia, said the agreement is a good example of cross-industry collaboration to develop and promote zero-emission fuel in the form of clean ammonia for the shipping industry. "Building clean ammonia value chains is critical to facilitate the transition to zero emission fuels by enabling the hydrogen economy – not least within trade and distribution where both Yara and Trafigura have leading capabilities. Demand and supply of clean ammonia need to be developed in tandem," he said.
There is a growing consensus that hydrogen-based fuels will ultimately be the shipping fuels of the future, but clear and comprehensive regulation is essential, according to Jose Maria Larocca, Executive Director and Co-Head of Oil Trading for Trafigura.
Ammonia has a number of properties that require "further investigation," according to Wartsila. "It ignites and burns poorly compared to other fuels and is toxic and corrosive, making safe handling and storage important. Burning ammonia could also lead to higher NOx emissions unless controlled either by aftertreatment or by optimising the combustion process," it notes.
Trafigura has co-sponsored the R&D of MAN Energy Solutions’ ammonia-fuelled engine for maritime vessels, has performed in-depth studies of transport fuels with reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and has published a white paper on the need for a global carbon levy for shipping fuels to be introduced by International Maritime Organization.
Oslo-based Yara produces roughly 8.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually and employs a fleet of 11 ammonia carriers, including 5 fully owned ships, and owns 18 marine ammonia terminals with 580 kt of storage capacity – enabling it to produce and deliver ammonia across the globe.
It recently established a new clean ammonia unit to capture growth opportunities in emission-free fuel for shipping and power, carbon-free fertilizer and ammonia for industrial applications.