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NATURE

Ocean ranch could bring sustainable energy, food

ENN



250-foot tall wind towers at sea would generate electricity for 10,000 customers.
250-foot tall wind towers at sea would generate electricity for 10,000 customers.  

September 29, 1999
Web posted at: 12:00 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT)

250-foot tall wind towers at sea would generate electricity for 10,000 customers. Forget about the ranchers who settled the American West. A Cape Cod, Mass., man has plans for a ranch out on the ocean that would both provide food and harness the wind for energy.

While the proposed $30 million fish farm project has yet to secure funding, it has generated interest from everyone from local and federal government officials to private investors interested in sustainable sources of energy and food.

"With aquaculture facing the same near shore conflicts (as wind turbines), we took a look and said, 'well geez, it makes all the sense in the world to integrate some of these technologies and defray costs,'" said Brian Braginton-Smith, director of the Conservation Consortium Foundation.

The concept is to construct a platform out in the ocean where 250-foot high wind towers would generate electricity for 10,000 customers and native fish species would be raised in giant pens, supplying a growing demand for marine foods.

fish fam
Environmentalists are opposed to fish farms because they pollute and spread disease.  

The proposal weds two seemingly environmentally benign industries in a world grappling with the issues of global climate change as a result of human dependence on fossil fuels and severely depleted ocean fisheries.

Nevertheless, wind towers and fish farms are unsightly contraptions that nobody really wants to look at, said Braginton-Smith. "There is a substantial NIMBY factor - not in my backyard."

Environmentalists are also opposed to fish farms because of the pollution and spread of disease associated with the high-concentration of fish feces, as well as a fear that genetically altered strains of fish could escape from the pens and mix with the natural species.

"Those are things that need to be addressed as it (the project) moves forward, but if we address them now, this thing will never get off the ground," he said.

The platforms could also serve as marine laboratories, where researchers could really explore the oceans; only seven percent of which have been explored to date, said Braginton-Smith.

"There is a big void in the understanding of our oceans," he said.

Copyright 1999, Environmental News Network, All Rights Reserved



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RELATED SITES:
American Wind Energy Association
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