KAENA POINT, OAHU - Opposition over a floating wind farm off Oahu's North Shore is growing. The project is several years down the line, but the proposal is on the table.
The Danish developer said the project will create up to 100 jobs for 10 years and contribute to a significant part of Hawaii’s 100-percent renewable energy target by 2045. But some North Shore residents said that doesn't outweigh the potential environmental impacts.
Jens Peterson is proposing to build 51 floating turbines secured by anchors and electrical cables 12 miles northwest off Kaena Point. It would be the first time something of this nature, in this magnitude, has ever been done before.
"It's phenomenally complicated. It is very, very difficult to do. It's by a fact of a minimum ten times more complex than any other project ever tried anywhere on earth," Petersen said by phone.
Petersen said it’s unlikely the turbines will be visible from land. But some North Shore residents said they want the developer to take the project somewhere else.
"I mean everybody that I spoke with is up in arms about it," said North Shore neighborhood board member Robert Justice.
Justice believes the massive turbines will destroy wildlife and impact the swells.
“The windmills will actually be bird blenders, just destroy them all," Justice said.
“It will directly affect Pipeline, Jocko's, all the good west swell breaks…we just had a World Champ, John John, come out of the North Shore. It's a breeding ground for good surfers. And everyone in the world comes to visit us, and to even chance destroying that, it's just beyond words to me," he said.
Others in the energy industry in Hawaii also say they don't believe the North Shore of Oahu is the best location.
"We had five sites around the island of Oahu that we had looked at. One of them was off of the North Shore, and we made the decision not to apply for a lease off the North Shore due to a number of factors, one of which was community feedback,” said Ted Peck, with Progression Hawaii Offshore Wind, which wants to lease a site nine miles southeast of Barbers Point.
Petersen is also proposing to build a wind farm 17 miles south of Diamond Head and says the south shore location is his first choice. He said he is not gonna push something the community doesn't want.
"I'm happy to move it somewhere else if that’s what Hawaii wants. And if Hawaii and the end of the day decides they don't want it, to have any off-shore floating wind, then of course that is Hawaii's decision and we will have to respect that," said Petersen.
The public comment period is closed for this specific project. It's now up to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to decide if the location is suitable. However, Petersen is willing to hear from the community and can be reached at email@example.com.