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Vineyard Wind

Perhaps the most difficult part to understand about offshore wind is the sheer scale of what can be built when you are building over the ocean. While land-based wind projects are truly large in their own right, offshore wind turbines can be colossal with a single turn powering multiple homes for 24 hours. Moreover, the power source is always present, unlike some other renewable energy sources, because the wind always blows over the ocean. It’s an inexhaustible resource like the waves rippling over the surface of the Atlantic. For the first time in history, Americans will be capturing that resource at the utility-scale by harnessing the abundant wind energy right off the coast of Massachusetts to deliver cheap, clean energy to power over 400,000 homes and businesses by 2023.

The Vineyard Wind offshore wind project is nearing the end of its federal review, and after 3 years of environmental impact studies, community cooperation, and technological developments, Vineyard Wind 1 is expected to start construction as early as this summer. Located 15 miles off of the coast of Massachusetts, the project is going to produce 800 Megawatts of clean, renewable energy for the state annually, lowering the cost of electricity for residents over $1.4 billion in the first 20 years of operation. New Englanders are no stranger to high energy costs, and this project will demonstrate the effectiveness of offshore wind farms at reducing energy bills for Americans across the country. Additionally, the project is projected to reduce CO2 emissions by 1.68 million metric tons every year and is expected to start producing clean power in early 2023.

As the first utility-scale offshore wind farm, Vineyard Wind 1 will serve as a proving ground for the viability of offshore wind energy generation, so the team is working to ensure the Vineyard Wind 1 is as energy-efficient and environmentally sound as possible. “Our goal is to set high standards. We want to be good stewards of the ocean, and we know that we have to share it with other users of the water,” Andrew Doba, Acting Communications Director for Vineyard Wind, shared in an interview with The Business Download. “So setting those standards is important for us, and obviously, we always look to improve but the higher you can set the standards in the beginning, the higher you can go from there.” One of the ways they do this is by partnering with Greentown Labs to develop an environmentally friendly offshore wind accelerator.

One rotation of this wind turbine produces enough energy to power two homes for 24 hours. Photo courtesy of General Electric.

Building Vineyard Wind 1 is expected to cost roughly $2.8 billion and will create around 3,600 full-time equivalent job years. Meaning the construction process and maintenance of the farm will generate 3,600 years of full-time employment, a number derived from combining short-term construction contracts and year-round maintenance jobs. Massachusetts is an ideal location for Vineyard Wind for several reasons. The ocean is relatively shallow out to the 15-mile mark, keeping construction costs low, and the wind resource is tremendous. Using 84 of GE’s massive Haliade-X wind turbines, the largest, most powerful wind turbine in the world, Vineyard Wind will create over 800 MW of power for Massachusetts. By working with the local fishing industry, the Vineyard Wind team is creating transit channels throughout the 200 mile Vineyard 1 project. Each transit channel is at least 1 nautical mile wide, giving local fishermen plenty of room to navigate the waterways in and out of port.

By working closely with the local communities, the Vineyard Wind team has been able to address individual and group concerns about the project proactively. “Anytime you’re doing something new, something that’s never been done before, there are concerns, but people see the tremendous potential that’s surrounding this industry, particularly in areas that are looking to revitalize their economies,” Andrew Doba shared. “People see the tremendous opportunity for jobs and investment and welcome it. They are just really getting excited about the potential here.”

Check out the episode of the Consensus in Conversation podcast featuring Juliana Garaziar of Greentown Labs.


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