A wind farm using promising new technology is proposed for deep ocean off the California coast

Martha’s Vineyard, it turns out, wasn’t the best place to launch the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Back in 2001, when Cape Wind Associates proposed installing 130 wind turbines across the Horseshoe Shoal, it cited the abundant renewable energy the installation would deliver to tens of thousands of homes. Those turbines, however, would have stood within sight of those same communities, which include popular tourist districts and the private compounds of the Koch brothers and the Kennedys. The issue of wind-turbine visibility is a peculiar one—after all, there are plenty of highly visible coal, nuclear, and solar facilities, compared to which wind turbines have a certain majestic grandeur—but it clearly contributed to sinking Cape Wind. After years of well-funded opposition, the project fell apart in late 2014. While the great wind powers of Europe—Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom—were planting turbines at a furious pace in the shallow bottoms of the Baltic, the Dogger Bank, and the North Sea, the U.S. wind industry appeared dead in the water.

Read more: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2017-1-january-february/feature/floating-wind-turbines-could-power-west-coast

Posted in clean energy, offshore wind

Off Long Island, Wind Power Tests the Waters


Only a few years ago, the long-held dream of harnessing the strong, steady gusts off the Atlantic coast to make electricity seemed destined to remain just that. Proposals for offshore wind farms foundered on the shoals of high costs, regulatory hurdles and the fierce opposition of those who didn’t want giant industrial machinery puncturing the pristine ocean views.

Now the industry is poised to take off, just as the American political landscape and energy policy itself face perhaps the greatest uncertainty in a generation.

Last fall, five turbines in the waters of Rhode Island — the country’s first offshore farm — began delivering power to the grid. European energy developers like Statoil and Dong Energy are making big investments to bring projects to American waters. Last year in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed into law a mandate that is pushing development forward.

And in New York, after years of stymied progress, the Long Island Power Authority has reached an agreement with Deepwater Wind, which built the Rhode Island turbine array, to drop a much larger farm — 15 turbines capable of running 50,000 average homes — into the ocean about 35 miles from Montauk. If approved by the utility board on Wednesday, the $1 billion installation could become the first of several in a 256-square-mile parcel, with room for as many as 200 turbines, that Deepwater is leasing from the federal government.

Continue reading the main story

Posted in Uncategorized

America’s First Offshore Wind Farm May Power Up a New Industry

A just-completed project off the coast of Rhode Island, though relatively tiny, is at the forefront of a sea-based transition to renewable energy.

The Block Island Wind Farm recently finished construction of wind turbines. They will start capturing wind power by October of this year, and will generate enough electricity to power about 17,000 homes.

From New York Times contributor, Justin Gillis:

By global standards, the Block Island Wind Farm is a tiny project, just five turbines capable of powering about 17,000 homes. Yet many people are hoping its completion, with the final blade bolted into place at the end of last week, will mark the start of a new American industry, one that could eventually make a huge contribution to reducing the nation’s climate-changing pollution.

The idea of building turbines offshore, where strong, steady wind could, in theory, generate large amounts of power, has long been seen as a vital step toward a future based on renewable energy. Yet even as European nations installed thousands of the machines, American proposals ran into roadblocks, including high costs, murky rules about the use of the seafloor, and stiff opposition from people who did not want their ocean views marred by machinery…

Mr. Grybowski and the company he runs, Deepwater Wind of Providence, R.I., have now done it. They had a lot of help from the political leadership of Rhode Island, which has seized the lead in this nascent industry, ahead of bigger states like New York and Massachusetts.

Now, offshore wind may be on the verge of rapid growth in the United States.

Using a law passed by a Republican-led Congress in 2005 and signed by President George W. Bush, the Obama administration has been clarifying the ground rules and leasing out large patches of the ocean floor for wind-power development. Nearly two dozen projects are on the drawing board, with some potentially including scores of turbines…

Read more.

One of five turbines that make up the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in the United States, off the Rhode Island coast. Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times.
Posted in Block Island Wind Farm, clean energy, offshore wind

One step closer: First American offshore wind turbines installed

Installation is now complete at the new Block Island wind power facility. On August 8, one member of the team tweeted, “I think it now qualifies as a ‘farm’ -2nd turbine completed last night #BlockIslandWindFarm@DeepwaterWind

From the blog of Greg Alvarez, on the American Wind Energy Association’s website (awea.org) —

American offshore wind power is one step closer to becoming a reality, with installation of the first turbines at Deepwater Wind’s Block Island project now complete.

Construction on the country’s first offshore wind farm began last spring, off the coast of Rhode Island, and the project is expected to be fully operational later this fall.

With an installed capacity of 30 megawatts, the five-turbine Deepwater Wind wind farm will generate enough electricity to supply all of Block Island’s needs, while also sending some to mainland Rhode Island. This will be a clean, affordable and welcome development for Block Island’s residents, who have long had to rely on imported, expensive and polluting diesel fuel for energy.

Read more.

image1-4The Deepwater Wind offshore project is expected to be fully operational later this fall.
Posted in offshore wind, wind power

France launches tender for floating wind farm – world’s first

France has launched a tender for what would be the world’s first large-scale floating wind farm, inviting companies to submit proposals for installations off both its northern and southern coasts.

French environmental agency ADEME posted a tender document on Wednesday calling for proposals for wind farms of between three to six turbines, with the capacity for at least 5MW per turbine, at three sites in the Mediterranean and one site in the Bay of Biscay, off the southern coast of Brittany.

As Reuters reports, floating wind technology aims to remove limitations for offshore wind farms, which are foundation-based and restricted to sites up to 50m in depth.

The technology has been pioneered by Portugal and Norway in the past few years, each with a single floating turbine, and Portugal plans to build a 25 MW floating wind demonstration farm.


The French project will be the first to test floating offshore wind on a large scale, however, as part of a push by the government to encourage the transition from a nuclear-heavy energy market to one that produces at least a third of its energy through renewables.

According to Reuters, the French government has made €150 million ($1US63.53 million) available for the cutting edge project, a third as investment subsidies and two-thirds as loans.

Feed-in tariff bids could range between 150 to 275 euros per megawatt, according to industry specialists, who expect the government will select two or three bids with a total combined capacity of 45 to 100 megawatt, depending on the number and size of the turbines proposed.

Bidders will have to propose how much capacity they would want to build and specify what sort of feed-in tariff they hope to get for any electricity produced.

According to the tender document, turbines must have a demonstrated lifespan of at least two years, though the government expects the projects — if chosen and constructed — to last at least 15 to 20 years. The tender will be open for submissions through April 4, 2016.


Posted in Uncategorized

Amazon Invests Big in Wind Power

Wind farm

on Friday, Jul 17th, 2015


Amazon is more than just an online store. It’s a company that invests in renewable energy. Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently announced that it contracted with Iberdrola Renewables to build and operate a 208 megawatt wind farm in North Carolina’s Perquimans and Pasquotank counties. When completed, it will be the first utility-scale wind farm in the state.

Called the Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East, it is expected to come online in December 2016. It will generate approximately 670,000 megawatt hours of wind energy a year. That’s enough to power over 61,000 American homes annually. The energy will be delivered to the electrical grid that supplies AWS Cloud data centers.

In November 2014, AWS announced its commitment to achieve 100 percent renewable energy use globally. In April, the company announced that about 25 percent of the power it used globally comes from renewable energy. The goal is to increase that figure to at least 40 percent renewable energy use by the end of 2016.

In January, AWS announced a renewable energy project called theAmazon Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) in Benton County, Indiana. It is expected to generate 500,000 MWh of wind power a year, or the annual energy usage of 46,000 American homes, and is expected to come online in January 2016. The energy generated will also be used to help power AWS Cloud data centers.

AWS doesn’t just invest in wind power to help meet its renewable energy goals. Last month, the company announced a solar power project called Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East in Virginia, which is expected to generate 170,000 MWh of solar power a year. It is expected to come online in October 2016 and will be the largest solar farm in Virginia with all energy generated powering AWS Cloud data centers.

Combined with the North Carolina wind farm project, Amazon’s renewable power projects will deliver over 1.3 million MWh of power, or enough energy to power 15,000 American homes a year.

The huge potential for wind power in the U.S.

Amazon’s investment in wind farms is smart given the big potential for wind power in the U.S. Currently, wind power generates enough electricity to power over 11 million American homes, according to theNatural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In some months, wind power generates 6 percent of the nation’s electricity — but that doesn’t begin to touch its potential. Some experts think wind power could generate 30 percent of electricity needs in the U.S.

Investing in wind power is one way to reduce carbon emissions. Climate science experts say that carbon emissions need to be reduced to from the current 400 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. So, wind power, and renewable energy in general, is good for the environment and the economy. The current wind power sector provides jobs for at least 75,000 Americans. A 250 MW wind farm (about 100 turbines) creates 1,073 jobs over the lifetime of the project. That’s the ole triple bottom line at work.

Posted in Uncategorized

Offshore wind still the best bet for clean energy

Boston Globe

By Ann Berwick   JUNE 29, 2015

But the bill has it right: For the Northeast to address climate change, developing offshore wind is a necessity. That’s because nothing beats offshore wind for generating power.

There is no longer any question among reputable scientists that greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity are largely responsible for climate change. Conceptually, doing something to reduce those emissions is remarkably simple. Most of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions come from just three sources: electricity generation, transportation, and the heating of buildings. To cut emissions drastically, we need to do three things: reduce the amount of energy we use; “green” the electric grid with renewable sources of energy; and — as much as possible — use that clean electricity to run electric vehicles and heat buildings.

In other words, green electricity can keep the lights on while phasing out gasoline and dirty heating oil.

Offshore wind energy fits into this picture because of the need for clean electricity generation — both to power everything we now use electricity for, and as a prerequisite to electrifying transportation and heating.

In this part of the country, there are currently only four potential large sources of renewable power for generating electricity: onshore wind, hydropower (mostly from Canada and some from northern New England), solar, and offshore wind. Examine each option more closely and it becomes apparent that we cannot do without offshore wind.

Onshore wind power from northern New England is an important resource. But getting the power to Massachusetts requires transmission lines through the northern states, which poses a big political challenge. Placing large numbers of onshore wind turbines in southern New England is impractical — the area is more densely populated, and we will never have the large land-based wind farms here that have been built out West.

An enormous amount of hydropower is generated by huge rivers in Canada, and to some extent in northern New England. But the so-called “Northern Pass” proposal for transmission lines for hydropower from Canada through New Hampshire is on the rocks politically, which speaks, again, to the difficulty of running transmission lines south.

Solar power is becoming more affordable, and over time will become an increasingly significant source of electricity.

But given current technologies, no other renewable resource can compete in terms of scale with offshore wind. The northeastern and mid-Atlantic coast are some of the windiest areas in the world. Even though Massachusetts has done a remarkable job of increasing solar power over the last eight years, Cape Wind alone would produce more than half the power generated by all of the solar panels installed in the state to date. Europe is way ahead of us, with 74 offshore wind farms generating power equivalent to the production of 10 large coal-fired power plants, according to the European Wind Energy Association.

Yes, offshore wind remains expensive, although the economies of scale that will come with the development of an offshore wind industry should drive prices down. In addition, many other ways to keep electricity costs down have not been fully exploited. The most important are conservation and efficiency. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has rated Massachusetts first in the nation in those departments, but we can do even better. The potential for conservation and efficiency is virtually limitless. For instance, the incandescent light bulbs still in circulation and some Energy Star air conditioning units are — at best — just 10 percent efficient. That means that 90 percent of their electricity is wasted. The point is that we don’t have to use anywhere close to the amount of electricity we do now, no matter how it is generated.

To create a truly green electric grid, however, we need offshore wind in a big way. It’s time for Massachusetts to stand up to the billions of dollars that funded the opposition that stopped Cape Wind. A commitment by the state Legislature to offshore generation would send that signal and offer meaningful encouragement to potential wind developers.

Ann Berwick was Massachusetts’ undersecretary for energy and later headed the Department of Public Utilities in the Patrick administration.

Posted in clean energy, Energy production, wind power