Tuesday, August 11, 2015

North America's first offshore wind farm ready to roll; could cut Block Island energy bills by 40%

Block Island, part of Rhode Island, is home to about 1,000 year-round residents and 15,000 summer visitors. It also has some of the nation's highest energy costs, with residents—who frequently lose power—relying on expensive, noisy, diesel-fueled generators that require millions of liters of diesel shipped by ferry, reports The Economist. All that could be changing "because Block Island is soon to be home to North America’s first offshore wind farm." (Maine Aerials photo by Dave Cleaveland: Block Island)

"On July 26 the first 'steel in the water' for the foundation of the small offshore wind farm was installed three miles off the coast," reports The Economist. "The five turbines, each with six-megawatt capacity, will be working by autumn 2016. Deepwater Wind, the company behind the project (which is privately financed at a current cost of $250 million), expects the farm to cut energy bills for the island by 40 percent. The farm will produce more energy than the island needs, enough for 17,000 homes, so surplus energy will be used on the mainland."

"Block Island is the pilot program for the nascent American offshore wind industry," reports The Economist. "If successful, Deepwater will develop a farm with 200 turbines, between Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees renewable projects in federal waters, has issued nine commercial offshore wind leases to companies all along the eastern seaboard. If these areas are built to capacity, some 3,000 offshore turbines could generate enough energy to light up the equivalent of New Jersey. More offshore wind projects are in the works in New Jersey, near Atlantic City, as well as in North and South Carolina and New York."

As part of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan that calls for using more renewable energy, "39 states have some sort of land wind project," reports The Economist. "Wind and other renewable, such as solar panels, have had much support from the Obama administration, beginning with stimulus funding in 2009 from the $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It was designed to kick-start the economy by investing in 'shovel-ready' projects. Green energy may have received as much as $90 billion." (Read more)

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