Biden administration approves country’s first large offshore wind farm
Construction of the country’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm is set to begin this summer, after the Biden administration gave final approval on Tuesday to a project that he hopes will herald a new energy era. wind turbine in the United States.
The Vineyard Wind project plans to install up to 84 turbines in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 12 nautical miles off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Together, they could produce around 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power around 400,000 homes.
The project would eclipse the scale of the country’s two existing wind farms, off the coasts of Virginia and Rhode Island. Together, they only produce 42 megawatts of electricity.
In addition to Vineyard Wind, a dozen other offshore wind projects along the East Coast are currently under federal review. The Home Office has estimated that by the end of the decade, some 2,000 turbines could be spinning in the wind along the coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina.
“A clean energy future is within reach in the United States,” Home Secretary Deb Haaland said on Tuesday. “Approval of this project is an important step towards achieving the administration’s goals of creating well-paying union jobs while fighting climate change and empowering our nation. Today, it is one of many actions that we are determined to take to open the doors of economic opportunity to more Americans.
The idea for a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts was conceived two decades ago, but has encountered repeated setbacks, delays and well-funded opposition from waterfront property owners before that the Trump administration decides to cancel the approval process for the project.
The Biden administration relaunched the Vineyard Wind project in March as part of its larger campaign to tackle climate change.
The effort merges the administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from global warming with its promise that renewable energy will create new economic opportunities. The administration has pledged to build 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind power in the United States by 2030. It’s a goal that the White House says would trigger $ 12 billion in capital investment by year, supporting 77,000 direct and indirect jobs by the end of the decade.
But that’s not all for offshore wind. Commercial fishing groups and coastal landowners should sue to stop the projects. Some environmental groups are concerned about harming marine life.
And some economists doubt that wind farms can create jobs on the scale predicted by the Biden administration. The supply chain for wind farms – and the industrial jobs associated with it – are mainly located in Europe.
But union leaders, heavily courted by the Biden administration, said they were optimistic the large-scale projects could spur companies to manufacture massive wind turbines and related equipment in the United States. “I think this is an important message that these jobs will be good union jobs with good wages and benefits,” said Frank Callahan, president of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council. He praised the administration for approving a project which is the first of its kind and said union leaders have sought to ensure that the project is built and maintained by unionized workers. The administration estimates that the project will create around 3,600 jobs.
The $ 2.8 billion project is a joint venture of energy companies Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. “We are very excited and proud to be part of the birth of an incredibly important new industry for the United States,” said Dennis V. Arriola, CEO of Avangrid.
Electricity produced by the Vineyard Wind turbines will flow through cables buried 6 feet below the ocean floor to Cape Cod, where they will connect to a substation and feed into the New England grid. The company said it plans to start providing wind power in 2023.
The Biden administration said it intends to speed up permitting for other projects off the Atlantic coast and will offer $ 3 billion in federal loan guarantees for wind projects. offshore and invest in upgrading US ports to support the construction of wind turbines. “It’s a big deal, and not just for Vineyard Wind. It’s the icebreaker, it’s the first, it’s leading the way, ”said Rafael McDonald, electricity and renewable energy analyst at IHS Markit, after the Biden administration released its first environmental review in March. “There’s all this pent-up demand for state mandates, and Vineyard Wind is the witness.”
If President Joe Biden’s offshore wind targets are met, it could prevent 78 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, while creating new jobs and even new industries along the way, the administration said. It would also fulfill a significant portion of the president’s pledge to cut U.S. emissions by about half by 2035.
Many Republicans are skeptical of Biden’s job creation claims and say the president’s plans – particularly his suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters – are already hurting unionized workers in industries. fossil fuels. “The Biden administration is pushing fantastic, expensive jobs and killing real ones at a time when America cannot afford to lose these jobs,” said Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the senior Republican of the Senate Committee on Tuesday. Energy.
Offshore wind, booming in Europe, is an emerging industry in the United States. But several states on the Atlantic coast, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia, have pledged to purchase more than 25,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035, according to the American Clean Power Association.
This worries the fishing industry, which fears boats and trawlers will struggle to navigate the towering turbines, the largest of which now have rotor diameters the length of two football fields. This could limit the amount of seafood they can catch, potentially affecting millions of dollars in revenue.
“Over the past decade, fishermen have attended offshore wind meetings whenever they were invited and produced reasonable requests, to be greeted in silence,” said Anne Hawkins, Executive Director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a coalition of fishing groups. “From that silence now emerges unilateral action and a clear indication that leaders care more about multinational corporations and energy policy than our environment, national food sources, or American citizens.”
Amanda Lefton, director of the Home Office’s ocean energy management office, said the agency would continue to seek input from fishing groups as the project progresses. “We are looking at these impacts and considering members of the fishing community in this process,” she said. “We can make sure we have the best science to help address some of the concerns that are out there.”