Machine Design

Wind power in the Southeast

The engineers at Georgia Institute of Technology and at electric utility Southern Co. will collaborate on the Southeast's first offshore wind-power project.

This 3.6-MW turbine from GE is similar to the ones planned for the Georgia coast. Courtesy GE Energy, copyright 2005, General Electric Co.

The goal is to determine if offshore windmills make economic sense. They expect to build three to five wind turbines generating 10 MW, enough for about 2,500 homes. Design and concept planning should begin this month.

Although many dismissed the area as a poor site for offshore windmills, a group at Georgia Tech studied sixyears of wind data collected from Navy platforms off the coast of Savannah. They concluded the strong westerlies blowing along Georgia's coastal waters coupled with advances in turbine design make the site well suited for the demonstration project. The offshore area is also relatively shallow even beyond what can be seen from shore. This should reduce construction and operating costs compared to deepwaterturbines, and ease fears of turbines ruining the view. This could be the first offshore wind project completed in the U.S. Two others, one near Fire island off the coast of N.Y. and another between Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard off Massachusetts, are mired in red tape.

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