Jun 25, 2019 | Updated: 07:39 AM EDT

Maryland Sets Its Sights on Renewable Energy

Mar 25, 2019 09:30 AM EDT

Offshore wind turbines
(Photo : Image by Lars Plougmann from Flickr)

Maryland-based environmental activists, energy companies, and Democratic legislators have been pushing for a bill that would increase the state's renewable energy standards to 50 percent by 2030. That standard would rise to 100 percent by 2040, and supporters believe it would add a significant number of jobs within the renewable energy sector.

In 2017, the Clean Energy Jobs Act committed Maryland to a 25 percent renewable energy target. So far, Republican Governor Larry Hogan has not endorsed the act, although he has spoken generally about the importance of taking action to fight climate change.  A representative for US Wind, one of the companies planning a project near Ocean City, testified to Maryland lawmakers that, if passed, the bills could create 5,000 to 7,000 wind energy jobs. To satisfy local stakeholders, US Wind has said it will place wind turbines 17 miles away from the Maryland shoreline.

"With only 358 megawatts currently available for development here in our state and no further incentive to develop more, Maryland risks ceding its leadership position as other states along the eastern seaboard move aggressively to increase the proportion that offshore wind energy accounts for in their own state renewable energy goals."

In addition to constructing and operating wind farms, simply producing wind turbines requires considerable labor. In order to limit turbine erosion, researchers and manufacturers are searching for innovative new approaches to focus on improved efficiencies. Since particles as small as salt can attach themselves to turbine blades and attract other particles like dirt, they can actually decrease a turbine's power output by as much as 15 percent. Currently, industrial protective coatings can be used to protect equipment from rust and erosion. Environmentally friendly powder coatings now make up 15 percent of the global protective coatings market, in part because of the demand for environmentally friendly solutions. To withstand the corrosive open ocean environment, marine equipment also relies on metals such as Marine Grade Stainless Steel. This is a type of alloy that contains the element molybdenum, which helps prevent pitting and corrosion on a higher level.

Some of the world's largest wind farms rely on load cell sensors to keep their turbines operate at optimal performance by increasing reliability and reducing downtime. These load cells can measure vibration, bolt tightness, torque, strain, noise, and so many more aspects of turbine performance. "Increasing the performance of wind turbines and blades is crucial for the transition to a cleaner energy system," added Rich Barnes, Executive Vice President at DNV GL. "Erosion of blades is affecting the global wind industry."

Maryland has big plans for their future with renewable energy and they seem to be taking the right steps in that direction.

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