If you are one of the two-thirds of Americans who want their government to prioritize developing renewable energy over fossil fuels, you will be pleased to know that at least some of America's elected officials are listening.
In some incredibly welcome news, New York has just greenlit a project to build the largest offshore wind farm in the United States, off the coast of Long Island.
Earlier this month, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced the city’s commitment to an ambitious plan to generate 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind energy – enough power to light 1.25 million homes – by 2030. Yesterday, the Long Island Power Authority approved plans for the wind farm, which will be the nation’s largest, to be built in the waters southeast of Long Island.
“This project will not only provide a new, reliable source of clean energy but will also create high-paying jobs, continue our efforts to combat climate change and help preserve our environment,” Mr Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday.
According to the project operator Deepwater Wind, construction on the South Fork Wind Farm could begin in 2019, with it up and running by 2022. The plant is set to have an initial 15 turbines with a capacity of 90 megawatts, which could power 50,000 homes in Long Island’s South Fork area.
The turbines are 600 feet (183 meters) tall, but due to the position of the wind farm 50 kilometers (30 miles) off the coast of Montauk, the turbines won’t actually be visible from land. Previous offshore wind projects, such as the one in Cape Cod, have been vetoed due to their obstruction of ocean views.
It will be the second offshore wind farm in the US, after the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island became fully operational in December 2016. Block Island has five turbines and provides energy to 17,000 homes on the island and across New England.
Wind power has struggled to take off in America, but this looks set to change. Deepwater Wind has several projects in the pipeline, and according to the The New York Times, other big developers are snapping up leases for waters off the coast of Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York. A recent report from the US Department of Energy revealed that solar employs more people than oil, coal, and gas combined in the Electric Power Generation sector, with wind power making up the third-largest workforce within the sector. The times, therefore, appear to be changing.
"There is a huge clean energy resource blowing off of our coastline just over the horizon, and it is time to tap into this unlimited resource to power our communities," Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in a statement.
“We think that thousands of megawatts are going to be built off the coast of the United States in the coming decades,” he added. “It’s an enormous clean energy resource. It’s easy for us to tap into it, but we need projects to get from essentially one project to these thousands of megawatts.”