After seven years of development and more than a year of construction, energy development group DeepwaterWind announced that the United States’ very first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, is fully operational, and is now supplying electricity to the New England region’s power grid. The activation of the wind farm marks the first time that Block Island will be connected to New England’s power grid, and the first time the island will have access to clean, renewable energy.
The Block Island Wind Farm, which consists of five 6-megawatt wind turbines, is located 3.8 miles offshore and is expected to produce a total of 125,000 megawatt hours annually. Though small compared to European projects, the wind farm represents an important milestone both for DeepwaterWind and for the US in general.
The wind farm is connected to the New England grid by National Grid’s new sea2shore submarine power cable system, a 21-mile long cable buried under the ocean floor. It also marks the first time that New Shoreham, the town located on the island, will be connected to the power grid, allowing it to transition to renewable energy from the diesel generators that it has relied on up to this point. The transition is estimated to reduce the island’s electric rates by 40 percent.
The small project serves as a demonstration for the potential offshore wind has for the rest of the country. “We need to learn how to do this in the US,” said DeepwaterWind CEO Jeff Grybowski last year at the project’s groundbreaking ceremony. “It’s going to take time, but starting with small projects like Block Island is critically important.” In addition to providing clean, affordable energy, the company has stated that creating jobs is one of its main goals, looking to the global market as an example: in Europe, wind is a 60,000 person industry.The company has plans for several other offshore wind farms, the first of which would be a 90-megawatt farm 30 miles east of Montauc, NY, in waters it already leased in 2013 with the space it’s now using for the Block Island Wind Farm. The company eventually plans to fill the 256 square mile space with 200 turbines that would generate 1 gigawatt of energy.
You can read more about DeepwaterWind’s future projects on their website.
Featured images via DeepwaterWind and SeaGrant