The United States is dotted with wind farms, generating clean energy to offset fossil fuel dependence, but until now, all of America’s wind energy has been produced on land. On December 12, Rhode Island’s Block Island Windfarm went online, marking the debut of America’s first offshore wind farm. While offshore wind energy projects are popping up all over the world, some say this could wind up being the only one of its kind in the US, as the incoming presidential administration may work hard to block renewable energy projects from becoming reality, in favor of coal and oil industry ventures.
Renewable energy developer Deepwater Wind has been constructing the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm for more than a year, and we’ve covered it before. The 30-megawatt wind energy project broke ground in July 2015, and the farm will produce enough electricity for the entire three-mile island and feed the surplus into the state’s main grid, which will supply around one percent of the state’s overall energy needs. In July 2016, the wind farm’s massive turbines and blades were delivered after being built in France, kicking off the final phase of installation and testing for the historic commercial launch.
Developers had previously promised to have the wind farm online prior to the end of the year, and they delivered on that pledge this week. On Monday, December 12, Deepwater Wind announced the farm was up and running, producing renewable energy for the first time off US shores.
In total, the wind farm is expected to produce enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 17,000 homes in Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind officials are optimistic that the Block Island Wind Farm will ignite excitement in the industry and lead to similar projects along the East Coast. “We’re more confident than ever that this is just the start of a new U.S. renewable energy industry that will put thousands of Americans to work and power communities up and down the East Coast for decades to come,” Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in a statement.
Elsewhere in the US, Deepwater Wind has several projects at various stages of development. A proposed 90-megawatt offshore wind project situated near Long Island, New York has gained traction, while a massive 120-megawatt offshore wind farm could be built to serve residents of Maryland.
The earliest those projects would be operational is 2022.
Images via Deepwater Wind