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If you can’t beat them, join them

If you can’t beat them, join them
A group of US east coast fishermen have decided to carve out a stake in the offshore renewables race by building windfarms instead of opposing development proposals, as tends to be the wont of their UK counterparts.

A group of US east coast fishermen have decided to carve out a stake in the offshore renewables race by building windfarms instead of opposing development proposals, as tends to be the wont of their UK counterparts.

While Fishing News reports on mounting opposition in British waters, Fishermen’s Energy, of New Jersey, sees offshore wind energy as an opportunity rather than a threat.

It says that fishermen can better serve the fishing industry as an agent for change than as a victim, and that with fishermen as principal developers, a key opposition to offshore wind is removed.

Ringleader is Dan Cohen, owner of Atlantic Capes Fisheries, and he has drawn together a group of significant fishing names in his locale to make a serious pitch for $1billion of offshore wind-based projects.

Fishermen’s Energy is one of five applicants for a New Jersey state Board of Public Utilities grant of $19million to launch a 350-megawatt (MW) pilot programme of offshore windfarms, limiting proposals to sites along the Jersey coastline between Stone Harbor and Seaside Park.

Other applicants include Blue Water Wind, of Hoboken; Garden State Offshore Energy, a partnership between PSEG Renewable Generation, LLC and Winergy Power Holdings, LLC; Occidental Development & Equities, and Environmental Technologies, of New York.

Cohen wants to start with one experimental 2.5MW marine turbine on land in a marine environment in Cape May, with plans to be operational in late-2009.

Phase 1 of the actual offshore development would consist of eight 2.5MW marine turbines east of Atlantic City, in state waters about three miles offshore, for a total energy production of 20MW, and plans for completion in 2010-11 at a cost of about $90million.

This phase would be financially structured in the form of a not-for-profit rural electric co-operative.

Phase 2 would comprise a further array of turbines located six to seven miles from the coast, east-south-east of Atlantic City. This, too, would be financed through another not-for-profit agency.

The Fishermen’s Energy proposal supports the recently released Draft New Jersey Energy Master Plan, which calls for at least 1,000MW of offshore wind capacity and 200MW of onshore wind by 2020.

Originally, New Jersey’s commercial fishermen were opposed to offshore wind turbines, thinking they would adversely impact the fisheries.

But according to Cohen, his local industry sees the project as an opportunity rather than a threat. He has gone on record saying that fishermen are particularly well suited to offshore wind development because they know how to handle heavy machinery in high winds and rough seas; control key upland assembly docks, boats and water access, and know the waters and the ocean bottom.

Consultants to Fishermen’s Energy include Amec.

For more details on this trail-blazing approach, see www.fishermensenergy.com

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