On March 2, 2015, America’s offshore wind industry reached a major milestone. Deepwater Wind announced that its 30 megawatt offshore wind farm, known as the Block Island Wind Farm, is now fully financed. Once built, the project will produce enough energy to power 17,000 homes annually, which is nearly 17 times more power than the island’s residents currently demand. The farm will fully connect to the grid by the end of 2016.
A Danish wind company and two American manufacturing companies will build and install five 6-megawatt turbines three miles off of Block Island’s coast. With the support of Societe Generale of Paris, France, and KeyBank National Association of Cleveland, Ohio, the $290 million project is slated for “steel in the water” this summer, with the project becoming fully operable in 2016. A deep-sea cable will export the power to mainland’s electrical grid. This is the first successful offshore wind project in the US.
A recent report released by the Clean Energy Group detailed the challenges the U.S. offshore wind industry faces. For example, attracting European investors and experts is necessary for spurring the domestic industry. European industry leaders cited that the biggest barrier to investing in U.S. offshore wind is the lack of coordinated financing and permitting policies, which is why Congress needs to revive and extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Without these critical tax credits in place, investors may continue to avoid the U.S. offshore wind market because of the high capital costs.
Earlier this year, Oceana found that offshore wind farms off the Atlantic coast could produce twice as many jobs and twice as much energy than the Obama Administration’s 2017–2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program. Developing offshore wind in the Atlantic would boost the economy while minimizing the risk of potential oil spills and reducing carbon emissions.
With several offshore wind lease sales planned for this year, Block Island is a critical step in bringing offshore wind to the U.S.