By Rae Taylor-Burns
Cape Wind, a project aiming to construct 130 wind turbines in Horseshoe Shoals of Nantucket Sound, has been met with well-funded resistance since the project’s public debut in 2001. Though groups who oppose the project argue in defense of pristine seaside views, a long term perspective proves that Cape Wind is a necessary step in protecting the future of a younger generation, who may not yet own homes on the southern coast of Cape Cod.
The wind farm would produce up to 468 megawatts and on average provide 75% of the electricity required by Cape Cod. Though European countries like Denmark and the UK have both been using offshore wind power for years, Cape Wind would be the first offshore wind farm in the States. Cape Wind in particular would be beneficial because of the high wind speeds and corresponding energy production that occur during times of peak energy consumption, allowing the farm to reach a maximum efficiency.
In an era of rising gas prices, energy independence has become a huge focus for the United States. Foreign oil and gas have long been contentious and problematic aspects of America's energy, and with the recent rise in the use of American natural gas, it has been estimated that the country could be energy independent by 2020. However, with drilling for natural gas creates issues of water and air contamination. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for gas has caused millions of wells to go bad throughout the country, forcing people to drink bottled water, and towns to provide town water. (This type of well water contamination story is close to home for Cape Codders too, with Eastham having been forced to switch to town water this year, due to contamination likely stemming from the town's landfill). Thus, even though natural gas could lead the country to energy independence, it is accompanied by serious problems. The expansion of energy sources like wind and solar power could be extremely important in achieving energy independence in a clean and healthy way.
Human use of fossil fuels is causing the planet as we know it to change. Atmospheric carbon levels are the highest in human history, Arctic ice is melting at a rate of 3 percent per decade, and the sea level at Woods Hole is rising 3 millimeters per year. Cape Wind and projects like it are essential for Earth’s preservation. This opportunity to take advantage of renewable energy allows us to choose between business as usual and an investment in the future; the choice seems obvious to me.
Rae Taylor-Burns is a student at Yale University living on Cape Cod this summer.