Massachusetts law requires that the state get 3,200 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035. This would be about 20% of the electricity they consume. But so far they get only about 120 megawatts from wind, offshore and onshore. Most of the potential wind energy areas shown above have not yet been developed.
This week there’s some promising news about Vineyard Wind, a planned offshore wind farm that should generate 800 megawatts when it’s finally running. This project had been stalled for years by the federal government. But no more! It just passed an environmental review. The final decision about whether it can go ahead should be made in April.
• Kelsey Tambirino, Biden administration gives major push to giant offshore wind farm, Politico, 8 March 2021.
The Interior Department said on Monday it had completed its environmental review for a massive wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, a key step toward final approval of the long-stalled project that will play a prominent role in President Joe Biden’s effort to expand renewable energy in the U.S.
The completion of the review is a breakthrough for the U.S. offshore wind industry, which has lagged behind its European counterparts and the U.S. onshore industry that has grown rapidly, even during the pandemic. It also marks a key acceleration for the Biden administration that has advocated renewables growth on public lands and waters.
“This is a really significant step forward in the process for moving toward more offshore wind development in the United States,” Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton told reporters.
"This is the day the U.S. offshore wind industry has been anxiously awaiting for years. Today’s announcement provides the regulatory greenlight the industry needs to attract investments and move projects forward," said Liz Burdock, head of the non-profit group Business Network for Offshore Wind.
The proposed 800-megawatt project, called Vineyard Wind, would be located approximately 12 nautical miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard and would be the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the country. Two other small offshore projects have been built off the coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia, but at 30 MW and 12 MW, respectively, are a fraction of the size of the Vineyard Wind project, which needs a final record of decision before construction can begin. That decision could come this spring.
The BOEM analysis’ preferred alternative would allow up to 84 turbines to be installed in 100 of the 106 proposed blocks for the facility. It would prohibit the installation of wind turbine generators in six locations in the northernmost section of the development area and the wind turbine generators would also be required to be arranged in in a north-south and east-west orientation, with at least 1 nautical mile between each turbine.