Turbines off Block Island, south of Rhode Island.

US approves first major offshore wind farm

Image credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The Biden administration has announced it has approved the first large-scale offshore wind farm for the US. It hopes the project will launch a new domestic energy industry that will help eliminate emissions from the nation’s power sector.

The project, called Vineyard Wind, will be located off the coast of Massachusetts and will feature 84 turbines. Its implementation signifies a milestone in the more than decade-long effort to permit a commercial-scale offshore wind project in US waters. 

“It’s been a long road,” said Lars Pedersen, chief executive, Vineyard Wind. “We’re really looking forward to now moving into the phase where we can actually start building the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the US.”

Approval of the project, which will generate about 800MW of energy - enough to power around 400,000 homes and businesses - is also a boost to Biden’s agenda of ramping up renewable energy production across the US in order to confront the climate crisis.

The US has lagged behind other countries in offshore wind, despite its lengthy coastlines, but the Biden administration said the new project will be the first of many as it aims to generate 30GW of energy from offshore wind by 2030. Two other offshore proposals, located in New York, are also now under review.

“A clean energy future is within our grasp in the US,” said Deb Haaland, secretary of the interior. “The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combatting climate change and powering our nation.”

The $2.8bn (£2bn) development, a joint venture between energy firms Iberdrola and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, will be about 12 nautical miles from the shoreline of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and will create 3,600 new jobs, the administration said.

According to the wind farm’s developers, initial construction could begin as soon as this year, and the project will begin delivering electricity to the grid in the second half of 2023.

Last month, the Biden-Harris administration unveiled a goal to deploy 30GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 by opening new areas to development, accelerating permits, and boosting public financing for projects. The administration expects the industry to help achieve its broader goal of decarbonising the electricity sector by 2035.

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