More and more people are interested in learning about the history of energy generation and green energy. If you’re curious about the topic, you might be wondering, when was the first offshore wind farm built in the US?
Although the US has had established on-shore wind generation facilities for many years, it wasn’t until 2016 that the first offshore wind farm was created. This commercial venture is near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and it should be contributing power to the grid by 2023. That’s an impressive feat and a step in the right direction for America.
We’ll be using this article to understand more about offshore wind generation in the US, and how it is growing and developing.
When Was The First Offshore Wind Farm Built In The US?
The first offshore wind farm was built in the US in 2016, and began operating toward the end of the year. It’s in Rhode Island, located around 15 miles out to sea, and it’s an 800-megawatt facility that should hopefully be contributing power to the grid sometime in 2023. This is particularly timely, with power costs rising, and customers everywhere feeling the pinch.
It’s hoped that the farm will be able to power more than 400,000 businesses and homes, which is a significant number. The farm could reduce carbon emissions by as much as 1.6 million metric tons every year while providing jobs to many American citizens and reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, such as oil.
There has been a noticeable delay in the US’s development of offshore wind farms. The world’s first offshore wind farm was commissioned in Denmark as early as 1991, just 11 years after onshore wind farms were developed.
There was a rapid development of the approach, although the creation of actual farms remained slow, and most of the focus lay in testing the concepts and overcoming technical difficulties.
In 1998, the Danish government decided to create 5 new offshore wind farms, and the UK government also began looking at the feasibility of such concepts, with their first offshore wind farm being created in 2001.
It is perhaps surprising, therefore, that the US did not complete an offshore wind farm for another 15 years. This might be because the onshore wind was the focus – so let’s explore this next.
Does The US Have A Lot Of Onshore Wind?
Yes, there is a significant number of onshore wind farms in the US, and this industry is well-developed. Indeed, it began as far back as 1980, when US Windpower created the first wind farm in the whole world, with 20 turbines. There were many hiccups, but onshore wind farms have come a long way since then.
However, moving to offshore wind offers significant advantages.
For starters, these farms are considered more efficient, because the winds are more consistent and tend to be high-speed. There’s also a lot less interference, because there are no trees or buildings to block the wind.
Furthermore, offshore wind farms are less disruptive to communities, because they are out of sight. This means many more people are in favor of them.
Although America is only on the edge of developing offshore wind, it is seen in other countries, including the UK, which is currently a world leader in this kind of technology. It has over 2,000 turbines in offshore farms, and these cover more than 10 percent of the country’s whole electricity requirements.
Are Offshore Wind Farms Always Better?
You might be wondering why the US has lagged on offshore wind farms if they have so many benefits, but there are drawbacks too. Offshore wind farms tend to be more expensive to build, and more expensive to maintain. This means that more money is needed upfront, which can be prohibitive in the creation of these farms.
There’s no doubt that the US is attempting to increase its investment in and use of offshore wind farms, but there are still significant barriers that must be addressed for this to be successful.
Although a lot of money is being put into the development of wind power (with around $30 billion) going into financing these projects, a lot more investment will be needed to make offshore wind a viable source of energy for most of the US.
How Many Offshore Wind Farms Are Now In The US?
The US has two operational wind farms at present – the Block Island Wind farm created in 2016 in Rhode Island, and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind, which is a pilot project that was completed in 2020 in Virginia.
This is a smaller farm that will likely generate about half as much power, but it is still a sign that offshore wind farms are becoming a more viable solution to the energy crisis.
There are also many proposed wind farms in the US, with companies assessing the viability of many different states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, and more. Companies have also started looking at creating these wind farms in some of America’s great lakes, with a current proposal assessing the viability of a lake in Ohio.
It is worth noting that the state that receives the benefit of the power is not always the one that the wind farm is located closest to. For example, the Block Island Wind farm will power homes and businesses in Massachusetts, not Rhode Island. That might surprise you, but bearing it in mind will make it easier to understand how power distribution in the US works.
Many environmentalists are hoping that the proposals will go ahead, so that the US can begin depending more heavily on wind-generated power, and move away from non-renewable energy sources.
Hopefully, you now know the answer to the question “when was the first offshore wind farm built in the US?” It wasn’t completed until 2016, and it is still not yet contributing to the grid, although it should be soon. When it is, it will make a significant addition to the power the US generates, and it seems likely that further offshore wind farms will follow.