First offshore wind farm in the United States begins construction

14-Aug-2015

In July, American offshore wind developer, Deepwater Wind, installed the first foundation for what is expected to be the first offshore wind farm in the United States. The project will be located three miles southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island.

With five turbines totaling 30 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity, the Block Island Wind Farm is expected to come online in 2016 and would be the initial, and smallest, of three offshore projects that Deepwater Wind is planning along the Atlantic Coast.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that the United States has 4,200 gigawatts (GW) of developable offshore wind potential, compared to its estimate of 11,000 GW of onshore wind potential. Wind resources are classified on a scale of zero to seven based on their power density, and more than 66% of offshore wind in the United States is in wind power class six or seven. In addition, offshore wind turbines are built to take advantage of the more consistent wind speeds present over the ocean, allowing higher utilization of electricity generation capacity when compared with similarly sized onshore wind turbines.

Although there are currently no operating offshore wind projects in the United States, offshore wind turbine technology has grown steadily in Europe, and, to a lesser extent, in Asia. As of 2014, Europe accounted for 90% of the estimated 8.8 GW of installed global offshore wind turbine capacity. Offshore wind power development in Europe began in 1991 when the first offshore farm was installed off the coast of Denmark, although the industry had little growth from that point until the 2000s. (by Rachel Marsh, Cara Marcy, EIA)