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“Historic chapter” opens as work starts on first full-scale offshore wind farm in US

Image courtesy of Ian Dyball/Dreamstime
Work has begun on the US’ first commercial scale offshore wind farm in the seas off Martha’s Vineyard in Rhode Island. If all goes according to plan, it will begin supplying up to 800MW of power to the New England grid in 2023.

The project, Vineyard Wind 1, is being built by a joint venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and Avangrid Renewables, owned by Spanish utility Iberdrola.

They will install 62 General Electric Haliade-X turbines to generate electricity for over 400,000 homes in Massachusetts.

The project is expected to cut carbon dioxide emissions by over 1.6 million tonnes a year, which is roughly the greenhouse gas emissions from 325,000 cars.

A ceremony to commemorate the event was held at Covell’s Beach in Barnstable, Cape Cod, the site where two cables from the farm will make landfall and connect to the grid.

Christian Skakkebæk, a senior partner and co-founder of CIP, said at the event: “The US offshore wind industry holds tremendous promise for both job creation and reducing carbon pollution, and today’s ground breaking, while historic, is just the first of many steps the industry will take as it grows.

“CIP is excited to be a part of this first project, and we look forward to continuing to invest in and build out the offshore wind industry in the US,”

Kathleen Theoharides, Massachusetts’ Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary, added that the project marked “the beginning of a historic new chapter for this industry in the US”.

The US’ first offshore wind facility was the 30MW Block Island Wind Farm, a pilot project that started commercial operations in late 2016.

In March 2021, the Department of Energy set a target of 30GW of offshore wind by 2030, and in January President Joe Biden signed an executive order halting new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters and to begin a thorough review of existing permits for fossil fuel development.

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