March 25, 2019 | 44° F

‘Energy Cafe’ talks offshore wind turbines

Photo by Tian Li |

Paul Israel, director of the Thomas Edison Papers project, talked about the history of Edison’s electrical advancements at the Cove in the Busch Campus Center.

A Rutgers student shared his research on the potential of offshore wind power in New Jersey to create a discussion on alternative energy yesterday at the Busch Campus Center in an “Energy Cafe” sponsored by Rutgers Energy Institute.

“There [are] 4,000 gigawatts of potential power when the wind blows in the U.S.,” said Greg Seroka, a School of Environmental Biological Sciences graduate student.

New Jersey has six land turbines installed, Seroka said, including one turbine in Bayonne, N.J. and five in Atlantic City, N.J.

The New Jersey Offshore Wind Project is proposing to create the first offshore wind turbines off the coast of Atlantic City, he said

The United States does not have any offshore wind farms installed, Seroka said. They are mostly found in Europe with a few in China and Japan.

Seroka said Americans could still learn from the many on-shore wind farms in the U.S.

“We can learn lessons on how to better build the wind farms and how to site them,” he said. “We can learn the physics involved and how to better operate them for the future.”

Offshore wind energy is definitely taking hold in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Seroka said. They held lease auctions in federal waters this summer.  

New Jersey and Maryland are next, he said. They are on the brink of federal support, and the government is starting to get closer to leasing auctions in federal waters.

The biggest challenge with offshore wind turbines is the cost, he said. Europe has government support to fund and build wind farms, unlike the United States.

“Right now we’re still working to get it to be less expensive, but it’s definitely a promising new energy source for New Jersey,” Seroka said.

Robert Kopp, the associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, said offshore wind turbines are a future technology because they are not the most cost-effective technology.

At the moment, researchers need to develop the technology to bring the cost down, said Kopp, assistant professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. But it is useful to know about all of the alternative options, since climate change is too big a problem to address with one energy source.

He said Rutgers Energy Institute works on a whole portfolio of technologies from solar power and biofuels to offshore wind power.

“Some of them may turn out to be economically significant over the next half century … and some may not,” Kopp said.

Seroka said Offshore Wind Analysis, a department in the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, works to observe the ocean and the atmosphere above the ocean to help monitor the winds and understand the wind resources off the coast of New Jersey.

Having offshore wind energy would help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Seroka said. It would also provide energy security for the state as well as the United States.

Offshore Wind Analysis is also researching the best storage methods for offshore wind turbines, he said, so the public could use stored wind energy in times when the wind is not blowing.

Paul Israel, the director of the Thomas Edison Papers project, said storage has been a long-term problem in the history of energy.

Israel said people have been looking for a way to store their energy since Thomas Edison installed the first electrical system in United States.

The Thomas Edison Papers project is a cooperative initiative between Rutgers and the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange to catalog 5 million pages of Edison’s lab notes, according to the project’s website.

Matthew Purri, a first-year student, said a push in renewable resources is important. He said Americans need to get rid of natural gas and coal to get to 20 percent wind power by 2030.

Purri said Americans also need to utilize offshore wind turbines as other countries do while taking a step toward wind and solar projects.

“Having ‘Energy Cafes’ open to students to start discussions and ask questions about our project is great,” Seroka said. “People need to continue to be aware of what is going on in the research field for the Offshore Wind Analysis.”

By Danielle Gonzalez

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