And although renewable energy like wind power is
undoubtedly green, not everyone loves it. Critics say
wind is not economically viable without tax credits. Some
residents have complained of noise, or are bothered by
the blinking lights at night. Another environmental objection to wind results from the fact that birds and bats can
be killed by the spinning turbine blades. Even the Navy
and other military services have been concerned about
the locations of some proposed wind projects because the
spinning blades cause interference with air control radar.
Cape Wind thus far has been thwarted in its attempts
to build a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound off
Massachusetts. Objections have been raised by wealthy
Cape Cod residents who do not want their ocean views
obstructed by turbines. The project has withstood 27
lawsuits, and won every one of them. But the project still
has not moved forward. Several other companies also
are planning wind farms off Cape Cod, and are watching
Cape Wind’s progress with great interest.
The Massachusetts legislature passed a comprehensive
energy bill in August that requires utilities to contract for
11,600 megawatts of offshore wind power, which may
provide the boost needed to establish a market in the
United States. The Bay State is not alone. New York State
adopted the Clean Energy Standard Order that calls for
half of the state’s energy supply to come from renewable
sources by 2030. The New York State Energy Research
and Development Authority issued the Blueprint for the
New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan in September
with recommendations on how to maximize the poten-
tial for offshore wind in New York.
America’s first true offshore wind farm is the Deepwater
Wind’s project, which includes five turbines. The power
is destined for Block Island, which has been “off the
grid,” and has had to generate its own power for years,
at a rate three times higher than what regular utility customers pay. So the Block Island residents had an economic incentive to support the project. Even more enticing is
the fact that the new wind farm will be connected to the
grid, which means Block Island will be, too.
New Business for Maritime Industry
Although a “one-off” project for the time being, the Block
Island project exemplifies how the U.S. maritime industry can grow with wind. Deepwater Wind is proposing
another project, called the South Fork Wind Farm, which
would have 15 wind turbines off Montauk, N. Y.
For the Block Island project, assembly and fabrication took place at the Port of Providence and Port
of Davisville, on the site of the former Quonset Point
Naval Air Station.
Because the U.S. offshore wind market is not yet
mature, some of the vessels came from Europe, or were
modified for the Deepwater Wind project. Offshore
lift boats L/B Paul and L/B Caitlin, of Montco Offshore
Liftboats, transported components to the construction
site. Fred Olsen Windcarrier’s offshore wind installation vessel Brave Tern brought the nacelles from
Europe. Workers were brought to the work site aboard
Atlantic Wind Transfer’s Atlantic Pioneer. Cable lay
vessel Big Max, a barge modified specifically for the
job, under contract with LS Marine and subcontractor
Durocher Maritime, placed the cable to connect the
wind farm with the grid ashore.
Many ports are looking to replicate the success that
some overseas ports have had in catering to the offshore wind industry.
The Port of New Bedford, Mass., the nation’s top fishing port, has invested in infrastructure to support the
Cape Wind project with the hopes it also could compete
for other anticipated wind business, seeking to emulate
German ports like Bremerhaven, which has added hundreds of offshore wind industry jobs. The New Bedford
Marine Commerce Terminal has been designed and
built-for-purpose to support the construction, assembly
and deployment of offshore wind projects.
Construction recently was completed on the five wind
turbines that comprise America’s first offshore wind
farm near Block Island, R.I. The Deepwater Wind project
expects to soon be generating power.