The first US offshore wind farm has been in the making for nearly ten years. The good news is that the setup is almost ready and will be completed by Fall 2016.
This 30MW project off the Rhode Island is quite small in comparison to the huge off-shore wind farms common in Europe. This 5-turbine wind farm off the coast of Block Island is tiny when we consider the world’s largest offshore windfarm project with 300 wind turbines producing more than 1800MW got approved earlier this week in the UK. However, US has been quite slow in adapting offshore wind technology owing to the regulation policies.
The construction work on the Block Island wind farm started off in 2015. While some of the foundation building and undersea cable laying projects were handled by a few Oil and Gas companies, the construction of the actual wind farm was awarded to the Deepwater Wind. The turbines came from the GE Renewable Energy that sourced the blades and the towers from Europe.
Each wind turbine is almost 650-feet tall and has three blades. Each blade weighs 29 tonnes and is almost as long as half a football field. The tower for the wind turbine weighs 440 tonnes.
The installation of the turbines will take around 25 days, and GE is working round-the-clock to get the turbines up and running.
The only delaying factor is the weather as explained by GE Renewable Energy’s Project Manager, Crucerey. Crucerey described that a 433-feet long installation vessel is jacked up to a solid platform, and cranes are then used to lift the assembled turbines. The work has to be stopped if the winds get too strong.
Although offshore wind farm costs much more than an on-shore wind farm, the windier off-shore conditions make them much more productive. The $290-million Block Island Wind Farm Project will power 17000 houses and will meet most of the energy needs of the Island.
However, Anders Soe-Jensen, CEO Offshore Wind GE Renewable Energy, believes that the cost of the off-shore wind farm technology will continue to drop if more such projects are initiated:
“The U.S. is going to have the great advantage in that in Europe we have been trailblazing this road already. Mind you, we cannot compare directly. We [in Europe] are executing much more. We have a supply chain already that is geared for serial production. Serial production will always be cheaper than individual projects.”
See more images of this Herculean project below:
The Americans are slowly progressing towards a future powered by renewable energy. Offshore wind farms will become a norm in the coming days. Already, Massachusetts has passed a bill that requires the utilities to source 1600MW of offshore wind energy in the coming years.