Offshore wind power finally arrives in the United States

Thanks to the National Offshore Wind Strategy, the US will build 86 GW of offshore wind by 2050, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1.8 percent.

The windmill blades of the wind farm located off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, are still not functioning. But in October they will start generate the first megawatts of wind power in the United States.

The Block Island wind farm is just the first of a series of projects that use offshore wind and are expected to have a total capacity of 86 GW by 2050. The country’s Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell revealed it in a document called National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States.

offshore wind power
The Block Island wind farm as seen from the coast. © David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

“Offshore wind has experienced enormous progress during the Obama administration. The first offshore wind farm has now finished construction, and we have gone from zero offshore wind areas leased before this administration to eleven areas that total the size of Rhode Island”, Moniz said. “Today’s collaborative strategic plan is part of a long-term commitment to support innovation that enables widespread offshore wind deployment”.

Offshore wind power and green jobs

A robust offshore wind industry – the Department of Energy said – will create 160,000 jobs, reduce water consumption by 5 percent and cut emissions by 1.8 percent.

block island wind farm
The Block Island wind farm has been completed this summer. © David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Mit Technlogy Review’ opinion

The Mit Technology Review praises the initiative, too. First, because the Block Island wind farm is hopefully just the first of a series of offshore wind projects. Secondly because the potential for developing offshore wind power in the United States is huge – around 4.200 gigawatts.

But the review also raised doubts. “It’s not clear, however, that offshore wind is primed to compete with other forms of power”, the Mit Technology Review writes. “The Block Island project cost 300 million dollars”.

In this sense, the United States should wait to expand their new market. While in Europe the offshore wind industry is increasingly expanding: in 2015 it added 10 gigawatts of offshore wind power at 82 wind farms.

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