With America’s first-ever offshore wind farm being completed this month off the coast of Rhode Island, major newspapers are editorializing in support of this abundant, homegrown, clean source of electricity. It continues a major American success story already experienced onshore, where there’s enough land-based wind power installed to produce electricity for 20 million American homes and support 88,000 jobs.
Just this past weekend, the New York Times editorialized in favor of offshore wind, stating “Putting windmills offshore, where the wind is stronger and more reliable than on land, could theoretically provide about four times the amount of electricity as is generated on the American grid today from all sources. This resource could be readily accessible to areas on the coasts, where 53 percent of Americans live.” Their supportive editorial included the following snazzy, creative graphic matching the vibrant potential of an industry already successful over in Europe.
For example, offshore wind is already a proven technology and an established global industry with almost 6,000 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity. It has already created jobs and attracted billions of dollars in private investment into local economies around the world.
The Times also points out: “There are 22 other offshore wind projects in various stages of development across the country, according to a recent report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Many of them are in the Northeast, including a proposal before the Long Island Power Authority for a wind farm 30 miles off the coast of Montauk that would supply electricity to the Hamptons. The Atlantic coast is a good place to build wind farms because the water is relatively shallow, which makes it cheaper to install the turbine platforms. Pacific coast waters, being much deeper, would require placing turbines on more expensive floating platforms.”
Speaking of the Northeast, and just off the coast of the Atlantic, the Philadelphia Inquirer also editorialized in favor of growing offshore wind recently.
“With New Jersey relegated to the sidelines, Rhode Island has taken its place in becoming the first state with an offshore wind farm. It should begin generating electricity for 17,000 homes in two months…New Jersey won’t be first, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the game. With its relatively steady offshore winds, and stellar academic institutions turning out the future energy pioneers that the industry needs, the state still has an important role to play in weaning the nation off of polluting fossil fuels that affect climate change.”
And while the are a lot of benefits from offshore wind power, including the steady, abundant resources, offshore wind’s costs will likely come down as the U.S. industry reaches economies of scale, just as the cost of land-based wind energy dropped by two-thirds over six years.
For example, the Inquirer points out: “The [New Jersey Board of Public Utilitiess] BPU also cited the cost of turning wind into a reliable energy source as a concern. But that criticism flies in the face of estimates by Fisherman’s Energy, which wants to build off the Atlantic City coast, that their project may cost utility customers only an additional $1 year.”
Progress is being made but there’s still a lot of room for growth. As these editorials point out, developing offshore wind power will be a win-win for both our economy and our environment by attracting billions of dollars in private investment to our national economy and reducing carbon pollution for generations to come.