The stakes couldn't be higher for America's first major offshore wind farm
May 16, 2021 at 17:15
The federal government this week gave the green light to Vineyard Wind , the nation's first commercial scale offshore wind farm.
Although onshore wind is a growing part of the nation's power grid, offshore wind is just getting off the ground.
Dirty coal must be replaced by much more solar and wind — including a series of offshore wind farms that begin with Vineyard Wind.
And if the 84-turbine project flops, it will give ammunition to critics who argue offshore wind is too expensive, too unreliable and too complicated.
"We do feel a responsibility to get it right," said Bill White, vice president of offshore wind at Avangrid Renewables, which co-owns the Vineyard Wind venture along with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.
Offshore wind farms must contend with rough seas, bad weather and the inherent challenges of installing gigantic wind turbines at sea — and then connecting them to land miles away.
Avangrid, which has previously built offshore wind farms in Europe, applauded Biden's team for approving a project that languished for years.
"The Biden administration has convened an all-of-government approach to offshore wind, which we've never seen before."
At the same time, solar and wind power will need to grow dramatically to pick up the slack and eventually generate the majority of US power.
Offshore wind is especially important to efforts to decarbonize Northeast coastal states.
"But they do have exceptional offshore wind resources," he said.
GE-powered turbinesUntil recently, offshore wind projects were considered too expensive to compete with fossil fuels.