MA - Turbines are in the water – offshore wind has arrived in Massachusetts
Experts are calling Massachusetts the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind
After more than two decades of proposing and planning, offshore wind is up and spinning. Fifteen miles off the coast of Matha’s Vineyard, the Vineyard Wind Project is installing 62 massive turbines. They estimate that this $4 billion project will power 400,000 homes and businesses. But some environmentalists believe the project could cause more harm than good.
Offshore wind is making a splash in New England, but it isn’t new to the Bay State. For more than two decades, plans for offshore wind turbines have been under discussion. Nearly 20 years after developers proposed the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound – a project that was eventually scrapped – offshore wind is up and spinning.
Fifteen miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, 62 turbines are being built for the Vineyard Wind project. Nearby, eight other developments have wind energy leases. However, offshore wind projects will soon span beyond Southeastern Massachusetts. In 2022, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management began gaging interest for offshore wind projects in the Gulf of Maine.
“Massachusetts has been called the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind. Within the United States, Massachusetts probably has the best wind energy resource offshore compared to any other state,” Christopher Niezrecki, director, Center for Energy Innovation and WindSTAR Center at UMass Lowell.
Many of these developments are already permitted and under construction off the coast of New England. These offshore wind turbines are three to four times larger than the onshore wind turbines we’re used to seeing.
Avangrid Chief Operating Officer Sy Oytan says the Vineyard Wind project is complex – years of permitting, complex financing, and both onshore and offshore construction. With the entire Vineyard Wind development coming in around $4 billion, the stakes are high.
Offshore wind projects aren’t welcomed by all. There are concerns surrounding marine life, the impacts on the fishing industry, and even the geography of the ocean floor. Developers say they’ve conducted proper studies to ensure no harm will come to the waters around the turbines, but some environmental advocacy groups have concerns.