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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Offshore Wind Projects Not Ruled Out

Regional | by Peter Jackson  

McGuinty Government moratorium on offshore wind turbines may not be permanent.

You won't see wind turbines sitting in the waters of the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay anytime soon.

But while the McGuinty government is ruling out wind-driven energy projects offshore now the door is still open -- at least a bit -- for the possibility of such initiatives in the future.

No renewable energy approvals have been granted for offshore turbines and any applications for offshore projects in the Feed-In Tariff program will be suspended.

Huron-Bruce Liberal MPP and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Carol Mitchell points out a lot of research needs to be done on the offshore electrical generation idea that was first floated in 2008.

Any regulatory framework would have to be supported by science.

Regulations have been proposed but the Environment Minister says more research needs to be done.

One thing Mitchell suggests is that the world's only established fresh-water wind turbine development located in Sweden be studied further.

Mitchell lists a number of sectors that might be adversely affected if the McGuinty government rushes to approve offshore projects.

Potential effects on the drinking water supply is key among concerns raised over putting wind turbines in fresh-water locations -- along with possible impacts on shipping, and commercial and recreational fishing.

Scientists won't have to travel very far to study a planned fresh-water wind turbine development.

Mitchell mentions a proposal for a development in Lake Erie off the shore of Ohio where scientists and regulators can look at what measures state and federal officials on the American side are taking to address the potential impact of the turbines.

Mitchell says offshore wind turbine projects are off the table in Ontario now but -- depending on what is learned from scientific research -- that may or may not be forever.


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