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Vineyard Wind: The 1st Major Offshore Wind Farm Approved by the Biden Administration
On Tuesday May 11, the Biden Administration gave final approval to the Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts, and construction is scheduled to start this summer. The project will use 62 Haliade-X turbines from GE, with a capacity of 13 MW each, adding up a total capacity of over 800 MW. This makes Vineyard Wind the first major offshore wind farm in the US, much larger than the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, and the 12 MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot Project.
- Vineyard Wind will have an estimated cost of $2 billion, and it will produce enough electricity to power 400,000 homes, while creating 3,600 jobs.
- The project will achieve estimated energy savings of $3.7 billion during its service life, eliminating 1.68 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year, which is equivalent to removing 325,000 cars from circulation.
- The wind farm will start operating in 2023, and it will cover 160,000 acres of sea south of Martha’s Vineyard, 15 miles from the coast.
More projects like Vineyard Wind can be expected in the near future, since Massachusetts has enacted legislation to deploy 3,200 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2035. If the target is reached, these projects could cover 20% of the state’s electricity consumption. The Vineyard Wind project will contribute with $15 million to help develop the state’s offshore wind industry.
Vineyard Wind Could Be the First of Many Offshore Wind Farms
In addition to Vineyard Wind, there are many other offshore wind projects seeking approval in the East Coast, which could lead to the installation of over 2,000 turbines. Several states have made commitments to purchase 25,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2035, according to the American Clean Power Association – they include Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia.
The Biden Administration has set a goal of 30,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2030, which aligns with their pledge to cut US emissions by half before 2035. If the offshore wind power target is met, the industry could draw $12 billion in annual investments by 2030, while creating 77,000 jobs and preventing 78 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.
To support this ambitious goal, the Biden Administration intends to fast-track the approval of several offshore wind farms, while offering $3 billion in federal loan guarantee. Major investments in port infrastructure are also being planned, to support the installation of marine wind turbines.
Some economists are skeptical that offshore wind power could create a large number of jobs in the US, since the industry’s supply chain is mostly located in Europe. However, union leaders are optimistic that offshore wind farms could create the demand for local turbine manufacturing.