31st August 2023
Huge new offshore wind project approved in U.S.
The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced its approval of the Revolution Wind project. Located off the coast of Rhode Island, it will supply 704 megawatts (MW) of clean energy, more than 16 times the current offshore wind capacity of the United States.
Currently, the United States has only a small fraction of the world's offshore wind power. Its first commercial offshore wind farm, near Block Island in the Atlantic, only began operation in 2016, with a nameplate capacity of 30 megawatts (MW). Since then, it has added just 12 MW, for a total of 42 MW.
For comparison, several other countries have already reached the gigawatt scale (1 GW = 1,000 MW) including China (26.6 GW), the United Kingdom (13.6 GW), Germany (8 GW), the Netherlands (3 GW), Denmark (2.3 GW), and Belgium (2.3 GW). The worldwide total currently stands at 64.3 GW.
However, the United States has a vast opportunity for expansion, with a "technical" resource potential of 2,058 GW. After lagging behind, it now seems poised to begin an exponential growth trajectory, with more than 20 projects in development at various sites around the coast. Indeed, the Biden administration's target for offshore wind is the deployment of 30 GW by 2030.
Among the many wind farms planned to come online this decade is Revolution Wind – a collaboration between Ørsted and Eversource Energy. Planned for completion in 2025, this will comprise a total of 65 wind turbines, covering an area of 97,498 acres (39,456 ha) to the south of Rhode Island. It will have a capacity of 704 MW, providing 304 MW to Connecticut and 400 MW to Rhode Island, enough to power 250,000 homes with clean, renewable energy.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has just approved the project, marking a major milestone in the federal environmental review process. Assembly of the first wind turbines is now expected to commence within weeks.
Connecticut is aiming for 100% of its electricity to be sourced from zero carbon resources by 2040, while Rhode Island plans to achieve this by 2033, the most ambitious clean energy goal in the nation. Revolution Wind will be a significant addition to both states' clean energy portfolios, while also creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs, including permanent operations and ongoing maintenance jobs.
"The extreme weather we've experienced this summer underscores the growing dangers and devastating effects of global warming as well as the need for bold solutions to address the climate crisis," said Connecticut Governor, Ned Lamont. "This decision from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which paves the way for Connecticut's first offshore wind farm, is welcome news for the state's clean energy goals, and will help improve our environmental health and drive economic growth, particularly in towns along the shoreline where staging and assembly work is occurring."
"This significant federal decision reflects a thorough review and assessment of the project's impacts. Now, we may proceed with construction, heading into 2024 with the goal of being commercially operational in 2025," said Rhode Island Governor, Dan McKee. "The Revolution Wind project will play a significant role in advancing the state's Act on Climate law, growing our clean energy economy, and achieving our 100% renewable energy standard objectives."
"Rhode Island's offshore wind experience offers a national model and is helping to chart the course toward a cleaner energy future," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. "When it comes to harnessing the power of offshore wind, America must keep pace with global competitors. This innovative project is bringing good-paying jobs and clean energy benefits for generations of Rhode Islanders, with a goal of protecting the environment and reducing long-term energy costs."
In March, Ørsted and Eversource announced a second joint proposal, Revolution Wind 2. If successful, this larger project will deliver 884 MW of clean power to over half a million homes in the region. Several other wind farms and their planned locations can be seen in the map below, illustrating the rapid expansion that can be expected in the near future.
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