In a significant development for the nation’s renewable energy community, the U.S. federal government has approved the environmental specifications for a Washington State-based coastal turbine project. The Whidbey Island initiative, which is slated to be installed in Puget Sound, would involve two electrical generators positioned 55 meters below the ocean surface. The wave forces at work in this region would power the turbines and produce power for the local community.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which was responsible for the ecological safety review, originally released its findings on January 15. The report stated that the initial license for a pilot program lease lasting 10 years met the government’s standards for local geological and wildlife preservation.
“Commission staff analyzed the potential environmental effects of constructing and operating the project and concludes that licensing the project, with appropriate environmental protective measures, would not constitute a major federal action that would significantly affect the quality of the human environment,” the agency stated in a press release.
Other government organizations, according to green living website EarthTechling, such as the National Marines Fisheries Service, cautioned that some of the ecological dangers might not be readily observable until the initiative is fully underway and turbines are being installed on the Pacific Ocean floor. Part of the issue, officials told the source, is that an endangered breed of killer whales is known to inhabit the area where the generators might be placed. However, a separate study conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, a federally funded research facility, concluded that no “significant tissue damage” would result from such an occurrence.
While the Whidbey Island tidal turbine project is still some time away from completion, this story highlights both the challenges and opportunities in the eco-friendly tech sector. For more updates on this and other topics, stay with the LifeIsGreen.com blog.