Offshore Wind Energy Rhode Island offshore wind farm

Published on February 12th, 2014 | by Tina Casey

5

Massive Wind Farm Takes Shape Off…Rhode Island?

February 12th, 2014 by  

When it comes to tapping into America’s vast offshore wind power potential along the East Coast, the notorious Cape Wind project has been hogging  the spotlight, but creeping up right on its heels — and maybe even passing it in the home stretch — is the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island, which apparently will sport the world’s largest offshore wind turbines installed to date.

The Block Island Wind Farm is a 30 megawatt pilot project, but if all goes according to plan it will be the first step in the 1,000 MW, utility-sized Deepwater Wind Energy Center offshore development, which will hook into a wind power transmission grid linking Rhode Island with other southeastern New England states and New York State, including Long Island.

For those of you keeping score at home, Cape Wind will *only* be 468 MW when completed.

Rhode Island offshore wind farm

Turbine for Rhode Island offshore wind farm courtesy of Alstom

The Rhode Island Block Island Wind Farm And Green Jobs

The Block Island Wind Farm, though a pilot project, is no small potatoes.  When completed in 2016, its five turbines will generate about 125,000 MWh (megawatt hours) of electricity annually. That’s enough to power about 17,000 typical homes.

The developer, Deepwater Wind, notes that since Block Island will become one of the first offshore wind farms on the East Coast, the pilot project will draw talent (and turbines — more on that later) from around the US and overseas. However, the idea is to recruit and train local talent as offshore wind farm development scales up.

Here’s a juicy green jobs tidbits from Deepwater: The company expects to generate more than $100 million in economic activity in Rhode Island from the Block Island Wind Farm alone.


That includes 200 local construction, turbine assembly, and cable installation jobs. The company also has ten full time workers on top of the “dozens of” high value consultants in wind power fields including electrical, civil and mechanical engineers, and surveyors, as well oceanographers, marine scientists, fishermen, and biologists whose skills come into play for environmental assessments and site planning.

World’s Largest (Installed) Offshore Wind Turbines

The Block Island project just passed a major milestone yesterday, when it signed an agreement with the French multinational company Alstom for delivery of five of its 150-6 MW Haliade™ turbines (150 meters is the rotor diameter), which the company bills as “the largest turbine installed in offshore waters today.”

Like other next-generation turbines, the Haliade eschews a conventional gearbox in favor of a permanent magnet generator, which translates into higher efficiency and improved lifespan.

About That Cape Wind Project…

As of this writing, Deepwater expects Block Island to beat Cape Wind in the race to plant the first commercial wind farm turbines on the East Coast, but it’s not for Cape Wind’s lack of trying. The project was obstructed early on by local organizations. That includes a heavy lift from certain wealthy Cape Cod residents and — no surprise here — the Koch brother that you usually don’t hear too much about, Bill Koch.

However, Cape Wind has been sailing along of late. In March 2013 it announced an important financing milestone, and in April 2013 the Energy Department approved its construction plan.

An important legal hurdle was also cleared in January 2014, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld an FAA decision approving the project.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Wayne Williamson

    Not really sure how five wind mills are going to produce 100 million dollars in economic activity….

    • A Real Libertarian

      6MW x 5 = 30MW.

      $100 Million/30MW.

      That’s $3.30/watt.

      Looks pretty accurate to me.

  • Peebles Squire

    Rhode Island has the chance to become the first utility-scale offshore wind facility (albeit a pilot project) in the United States, an exciting prospect that Rhode Islanders can be proud of.

    Wind power can lead us to increased energy independence while reducing costs and pollution, especially carbon dioxide emissions. The more than 60 gigawatts of installed wind capacity at the end of 2013 already avoids nearly 100 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Those reductions are permanent for the life of a wind project.

    The addition of offshore wind to the United States’ already impressive generating portfolio of land-based wind power demonstrates that the American appetite for finding solutions to complex problems, such as our energy future, will go on.

    Peebles Squire
    AWEA

  • The Green Miles

    “Massive”? Yes, they’re slightly larger than other turbines, but there will only be five of them for 30 MW total. It’s a small farm.

    • saurdigger

      Hence “pilot project” in the description within the article above.

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