Rhode Island and Massachusetts are neck and neck in the race for the first offshore wind farm in America, according to the National Wildlife Federation. The Cape Wind project in Massachusetts and the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island plan to begin construction next year. The NWF described both of them as “within sight of the finish line.”
In the NWF’s new report on state efforts to build offshore wind farms (pdf), they emphasized the growing momentum of offshore wind development in the U.S. A handful of projects are on track to begin construction, states have designated over a million acres of ocean for potential wind energy development, and the federal government has invested in offshore wind technology and projects – all good signs for the growth of the offshore wind industry.
Many states are making progress, according to the report, but it is Rhode Island and Massachusetts that are closest to making offshore wind energy a reality. Not coincidentally, those are two states with the potential to generate the some of the highest wattage. Massachusetts is particularly well equipped – their designated wind energy area could put out up to 5,000-MW. The chart from the NWF report above shows one reason Massachusetts has so much potential – the waters off the coast of New England have some of the best wind resources in the country.
Offshore wind farms have proliferated near European shorelines, but none have yet been built in the U.S. But with the winds of the Atlantic coast providing such a strong energy source so close to major population centers, and with public and private efforts gaining momentum, offshore wind in the U.S. seems nearly inevitable.