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Construction starts at America’s first major offshore wind farm


The Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island is shown here, as seen on this photograph taken June 13, 2017.

David L. Ryan | Boston Globe | Getty Images

A project known as the “first American commercial scale offshore windfarm” has taken root.

American’s emerging offshore wind sector is making progress with the kickoff of construction, which was held on Thursday. Located in waters 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard, near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, it’s hoped that the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind 1 facility will start sending power to the grid in 2023.

Vineyard Wind 1 will be built by Vineyard Wind LLC. This 50-50 joint venture is between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners) and Avangrid Renewables. This subsidiary is owned by AvangridThe ownership of 81.5% is owned by IberdrolaSpain is home to the major utility,

Vineyard Wind claims that Covell’s Beach is the location where two cables are expected to make landfall. They will connect with the grid at a substation farther inland on Cape Cod. The wind farm will employ 62 people. General Electric’sIt claims that the Haliade-X turbines are huge and produce electricity for more than 400,000 Massachusetts homes and businesses.

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It is estimated that the project will reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million tonnes annually. Vineyard Wind stated that this is equivalent to removing 325,000 cars from the roads each year.

“The US offshore wind industry holds tremendous promise for both job creation and reducing carbon pollution, and today’s ground breaking, while historic, is just the first of many steps the industry will take as it grows,” Christian T. Skakkebæk, who is senior partner and co-founder of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, said.  

“CIP is excited to be a part of this first project, and we look forward to continuing to invest in and build out the offshore wind industry in the United States,” Skakkebæk said.

Kathleen Theoharides (Massachusetts’ Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary) stated that the start of the onshore construction of the Vineyard Wind project is a significant milestone in this sector of the United States.  

The U.S. has a strong onshore wind industry. However, Block Island Wind Farm is the first country to build an offshore wind farm. It boasts a 30 MW capacity. only started commercial operations in late 2016.

In March 2021, Departments of Energy, Interior and Commerce stated that they intend to launch 30 gigawatts of offshore renewable energy by 2030. It is a plan it hopes will create thousands of jobs and attract billions of dollars of investment.

These plans aside, it is still a ways off from the more established offshore wind markets like the ones found in Europe.

According to WindEurope figures, 26.3 billion euro (roughly $29.7billion) was invested in financing new offshore wind projects last year. According to the industry body, there was 2.9GW of offshore wind power installed in Europe by 2020.

The U.S. wants to increase its offshore wind power, but the real challenge is moving away fossil fuels. This week the U.S. held an auction for oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

President Joe Biden had signed an executive order in January directing the Secretary of the Interior to halt new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters and to begin a thorough review of existing permits for fossil fuel development.

But in June, a federal judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction to block the administration’s suspension and ordered that plans continue for lease sales that were delayed for the Gulf and Alaska waters.

U.S. Department of Justice has asked an appeals court for a reversal of the judge’s decision. 

—CNBC’s Emma Newburger contributed to this report