QCAN, Library to Mark Climate Week with Lecture on the Promise of Offshore Wind

September 10, 2019

Quincy Climate Action Network, Fore River Residents Against Compressor Station, and the Thomas Crane Public Library will celebrate Climate Week 2019 with a lecture by John Rogers, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Rogers will speak on the promise of offshore wind power for the New England economy as well as the global environment. The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday September 24 at the library’s main branch, 40 Washington Street in Quincy Center. Admission is free, and all are welcome.

A mechanical engineer by training, Rogers has worked at UCS since 2006, where he analyzes energy policy and interacts with the public and media, spreading the word about clean energy and its economic, health, and environmental benefits via broadcast outlets such as CNN, Fox Business Network, NPR, and PBS. He has been quoted in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Fortune, Popular Mechanics, and Good Housekeeping,

Rogers’s lecture will outline technological advances that are making offshore wind increasingly affordable. “A few years ago, a single offshore wind turbine could generate roughly 4 megawatts,” he says. “Turbines in the first large-scale offshore US wind project will generate 10 megawatts a piece.” This will result in economies of scale, as will the size of the offshore wind projects being planned for coastal waters off Massachusetts and other states in the Northeast. Also bringing costs down, Rogers says, will be state policies that ease the way for offshore wind and the rapidly growing knowledge-base as “the industry learns how to do things better and better and better.” Offshore wind, while new to the United States, has long been a major contributor to the energy mix in Western Europe.

According to Rogers, big offshore wind projects can insure against spikes natural gas prices. Currently Massachusetts depends heavily on gas-fired power plants for its electricity supply. As an early adopter of offshore wind, the state will also place itself in position to be the center of a major new industry, bringing jobs not only for engineers and scientists but also skilled tradespeople. “Our universities and colleges can be part of moving the industry forward, but we’ll also need a lot of people who know how to do things at sea, including pipefitters, electricians, steelworkers, and others,” Rogers explains.

When it comes to environmental benefits, “we have major opportunities for lowering heat trapping emissions in the power sector,” Rogers says, “and offshore wind will be a powerful tool in that toolbox.” State laws enacted in the last few years call for 3,600 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, at which point, Rogers says the sector will be providing one-third of the state’s electric power, with only a tiny contribution to climate-altering greenhouse gases or toxic air pollution.