The first offshore wind project in the United States moved a step closer to reality this week when Cape Wind Associates inked a deal with German wind turbine manufacturer Siemens to provide 3.5 megawatt offshore wind turbines for the 130-turbine wind farm. The renewable energy project will have a combined capacity of up to 420 MW, and it will be located in Nantucket Sound’s Horseshoe Shoal. As part of the contract, Siemens will also build the project’s offshore Electric Service Platform with construction subcontracted to Maine-based Cianbro. Siemens will also provide maintenance services for 15 years.
Image © Siemens
The project has faced harsh headwinds, including local opposition to the project from groups such as The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Prominent Republican politicians such as Mitt Romney and Scott Brown have come out against Cape Wind, and climate change-denying Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has targeted the project for investigation.
Despite the conservative attacks against Cape Wind, polling shows overwhelming public support for the project. A recent survey by the Civil Society Institute found that 81 percent of Massachusetts residents support the offshore wind project. And the project has already taken significant steps towards completion with U.S. Department of Interior approval in 2010 and a U.S. Department of Energy permit in 2011. The project also secured debt financing from the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi earlier this year.
The project is expected to create between 600 and 1,000 construction-related jobs and 50 permanent jobs at its Falmouth, Massachusetts operations headquarters. About 60,000 people already work for Siemens in the U.S.
“This is a significant milestone for this project and we’re excited about it,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Massachusetts will be a pioneer in the emerging offshore wind industry, which brings with it both clean energy and good jobs.”
The Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. has some of the highest offshore wind power potential in the world. According to the Department of Energy, the Atlantic Coast has the potential to provide 530,000 MW of wind power in shallow waters, which could meet more than 40 percent of America’s electricity needs.
Globally, offshore wind is on track for its seventh consecutive year of record growth with the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, China and Germany leading the way.
Lead image via Imágenes de Iberdrola