Construction begins on the first large offshore wind farm in the United States
This photograph, taken on June 13, 2017, shows the Block Island Wind Farm, Rhode Island.
David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images
The ground has been laid on a project dubbed “America’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm”.
The construction kickoff, which took place on Thursday, represents another step forward for America’s nascent offshore wind industry. Located in the waters 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, it is hoped that the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind 1 facility will begin sending electricity to the grid in 2023.
Vineyard Wind 1 is being built by Vineyard Wind LLC, a 50-50 joint venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables. The latter is a subsidiary of Avangrid, 81.5% owned by Iberdrola, a major electricity company headquartered in Spain.
According to Vineyard Wind, Covell’s Beach at Barnstable is “the site where two cables will land and connect to the network of a substation further inland on Cape Cod.” The wind farm will use 62 of General Electric’s massive Haliade-X turbines, producing electricity for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, he said.
The project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tonnes per year. That’s the equivalent of taking 325,000 cars off the road each year, said Vineyard Wind.
“The US offshore wind industry holds great promise for both job creation and carbon pollution reduction, and today’s inauguration, while historic, is only the first of the many steps the industry will take as it grows, ”Christian T. Skakkebæk, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, said.
“CIP is delighted to be a part of this first project, and we look forward to continuing to invest and develop the offshore wind industry in the United States,” said Skakkebæk.
Elsewhere, Kathleen Theoharides, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs for Massachusetts, said that “the start of onshore construction on the Vineyard Wind project marks the start of a historic new chapter for this industry in the United States.”
While the United States is home to a well-developed onshore wind industry, the country’s first offshore wind facility, the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, did not begin commercial operations until late 2016.
In March 2021, the ministries of energy, interior and trade said they wanted to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, an initiative that will hopefully generate thousands of dollars. jobs and unlock billions of dollars in investment.
Despite these plans, the United States still has a long way to go before it catches up with more mature offshore wind markets like the one found in Europe.
Last year, the sector attracted 26.3 billion euros (about $ 29.7 billion) in funding for new offshore wind projects there, according to figures from WindEurope. In 2020, 2.9 GW of offshore wind capacity were installed in Europe, according to the industry body.
As the United States seeks to increase its offshore wind capacity, the challenge of moving away from fossil fuels is enormous. Just this week, the United States held an auction for oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January ordering the Home Secretary to suspend new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters and to begin a thorough review of existing permits for fossil fuel development. .
But in June, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction to block the administration’s suspension and ordered plans to sell delayed leases for Gulf and Alaska waters to continue.
The US Department of Justice is asking an appeals court to overturn the judge’s order.
—CNBC’s Emma Newburger contributed to this report