Block Island Wind Farm: First US Offshore Wind Farm
Earlier this month (May 1st, 2017), the first US offshore wind farm went online, replacing diesel generators powered by Block Island Power Company. Block Island Wind Farm now powers homes in the small town of Block Island, located just off the coast of Rhode Island. Block Island Wind Farm began its construction process in April 2015, ended construction in August 2016, and began delivering electricity for commercial operations in December 2016.
The $300 million wind farm consists of 5 turbines (GE Haliade 150-6MW), with the ability to generate 30MW of renewable energy. Each of these turbines is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty! The power that is created by the wind turbines connects to the National Grid via an underground cable beneath the sea
Since the offshore wind farm is replacing diesel generators, 1 million gallons of diesel fuel per year won’t be needed. This means that the wind farm will emit 40,000 tons fewer greenhouse gases per year, which is the same as removing 150,000 cars off the road. The 2,000 customers that are now powered by the wind farm will save between $25-$30 a month on their electricity bill with this switch from diesel to wind.
Wind farms have been around for awhile now in the U.S., but not of this kind. This is the first U.S. OFFSHORE wind farm, as opposed to similar wind farms that operate on land in several states. The advantages to offshore wind farms outweigh those on land, since the winds offshore blow heavier at a more consistent rate. Offshore wind turbines are also bigger than the turbines on land, which can produce more energy.
Many countries around the world have been using offshore wind farms for electricity generation way before the U.S., dating back to 1991. The U.K. has the world’s largest offshore wind farm, named the London Array. It’s capacity is 630MW. Other countries that are very familiar with offshore wind farms include Denmark (first one in 1991), Germany, Belgium, China, Japan, Sweden, and the Netherlands. To learn more about offshore wind farms and why the U.S. has just finished its very first one by late 2016, please read our other blog.