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America’s first offshore windfarm gains approval

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday gave the go-ahead to the country's first offshore windfarm, off the coast of Cape Cod.

The expansion of alternative energy sources, such as wind power, should be welcomed. The Cape Wind farm, as the Nantucket Sound project is known, has been under review and debated for the past nine years. Opposition has had a Nimby (not in my backyard) character: antis have emphasised possible interference with local fishermen, intrusions on sacred rituals and burial grounds of two local Indian tribes, and blocking of the view. A prominent opponent is the Kennedy family, whose compound is nearby the proposed site. It was interesting to see greens were on both sides of the debate too.

This is not to say that wind is the only alternative form that should be pursued. Nuclear power, in particular, has to be central to an alternative strategy. Right now, nuclear uses less land, costs less, provides a more consistent supply and generates more power. But, as James Woudhuysen and Joe Kaplinsky argue in their excellent book, Energise!: A Future for Energy Innovation, we need multiple sources for our expanding energy needs. And it's not so much what wind power can deliver today, but the potential for its development into the future. Given the as-yet unharnessed power of "astronomicals" (the authors' preferred term for "renewables"), they need to be explored.

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