First U.S. offshore wind farms start delivering electricity, marking a significant milestone in renewable energy.
For the first time, U.S. turbines are powering the grid from offshore wind farms. Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners announced this milestone Wednesday. Their Vineyard Wind project has one of 62 turbines active off Massachusetts' coast.
Currently, five turbines are installed at Vineyard Wind. One turbine began supplying 5 megawatts to Massachusetts' grid just before midnight Wednesday. The other four turbines are undergoing tests and will operate early this year.
Azagra described this as a pivotal climate action moment in the U.S. and a new dawn for American offshore wind. Last month, COP28 countries agreed to shift from fossil fuels. Renewable energy use, including offshore wind, must triple to meet this goal.
However, the offshore wind industry in the U.S. has faced challenges. Several East Coast projects were canceled due to financial infeasibility. Equinor and BP announced a delay in Empire Wind 2, a New York offshore project. Economic changes have impacted the project's timeline. Empire Wind 1's 800-megawatt phase remains unchanged.
Offshore wind farms have operated in Europe for three decades and more recently in Asia. Vineyard Wind aims to revitalize the U.S. offshore wind sector. Cape Wind, the first planned U.S. offshore farm off Massachusetts, failed due to opposition and legal issues. Only a small-scale farm operates off Rhode Island since 2016.
Vineyard Wind proposed its project in 2017, with Massachusetts seeking 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind by 2027. Vineyard Wind will be further offshore than Cape Wind, marking the first utility-scale development in U.S. federal waters.
In 2019, federal regulators delayed Vineyard Wind by withholding a key environmental impact statement. Critics accused the Trump administration of hindering renewable energy projects. The Biden administration approved the project in 2021. Construction began onshore in Barnstable, Massachusetts, with tower sections arriving from Portugal this spring.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell welcomed Wednesday's announcement as a strong start to 2024. The 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind will power over 400,000 homes and businesses. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey credited advocates, public servants, workers, and business leaders for this achievement.
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