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Wind turbine off New York begins sending electricity to US grid

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NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — Despite some recent financial setbacks, U.S. offshore wind energy has reached an important milestone. An 800-foot-tall turbine is now sending electricity to the grid from a commercial-scale offshore wind farm, poised to become the nation’s first.

It takes years and, at the same time, it is a modest step forward in what experts say must be a major development of this type of clean electricity to combat climate change.

LEARN MORE: Offshore wind project cancellations undermine Biden’s clean energy goals

Danish wind energy developer Ørsted and utility Eversource announced Wednesday the first electricity production from what will be a 12-turbine wind farm called South Fork Wind, located 56 kilometers east of Montauk Point, in New York State. This will be New York’s first offshore wind farm.

Ørsted and Eversource met with New York State officials Wednesday to celebrate this “energy first” milestone, in East Hampton, New York, where the wind farm is connected to the onshore power grid. They say this achievement provides a foundation for other large U.S. offshore wind farms that will follow.

So far, two of the 11 megawatt turbines are in operation. The second is being tested, and then it will also be able to start producing electricity. When the other ten are operating and South Fork opens early next year, it will be able to generate 132 megawatts of offshore wind energy to power more than 70,000 homes.

The first energy announcement is “an incredible moment in American clean energy history,” said Stephanie McClellan, executive director of the nonprofit Turn Forward, which advocates for offshore wind. . She said the South Fork would be a source of clean, reliable, domestically produced energy.

“This is just the beginning of what offshore wind can do,” she said in a statement.

Offshore wind is at the heart of New York’s plan to transition to a carbon-free electricity system by 2040. The state aims to install 9 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2035.

“New York State’s efforts to generate clean, reliable, renewable energy have reached a major milestone,” New York State Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement Wednesday. “South Fork Wind will power thousands of homes, create good-paying union jobs, and demonstrate to everyone that offshore wind is a viable resource that New York can harness for generations to come.”

Large offshore wind farms have been producing electricity for three decades in Europe and more recently in Asia. America’s first offshore wind farm was supposed to be a project off the coast of Massachusetts, known as Cape Wind. The application was submitted to the federal government in 2001. It failed after years of opposition and local litigation.

LEARN MORE: Blocking spending on electricity networks slows the deployment of renewable energy, putting climate goals at risk

Wind turbines began powering off Block Island, Rhode Island, in 2016. But with only five of them, it’s not a commercial-scale wind farm.

Currently, two commercial offshore wind farms are under construction in the United States, South Fork Wind and Vineyard Wind. Vineyard Wind will be a 62-turbine wind farm located 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. It has not yet started producing electricity, the developer said Monday. They first install and test five turbines.

At State Pier in New London, Connecticut, massive blades and tower sections for the South Fork are lined up, ready to leave port for the sea where they will be erected in the coming weeks. The nacelles which house the generator of each wind turbine are also present.

On Monday, a barge carrying three blades and a nacelle for the third turbine left the port. As Eversource’s Jeff Martin looked on, he said it was a “joy” to see the industry finally move from concept to fruition in the United States to help reduce the country’s dependence on fuels. fossils.

“Finally, we are taking this step to catch up with the rest of the world and do our part to collectively fight climate change,” said Martin, Eversource’s director of business development for the offshore wind group.

Large ocean wind farms are at the heart of government plans to shift to renewable energy in populous East Coast states with limited land for wind turbines or solar panels. The Biden administration aims to power 10 million homes with offshore wind energy by 2030 and establish a carbon-free electricity grid five years later.

But the industry has fallen on hard times lately. Ørsted announced the cancellation of two large offshore wind projects in New Jersey due to supply chain issues, higher interest rates and the inability to obtain the amount of tax credits desired by the company. New England real estate developers also recently canceled their power contracts, saying their projects were no longer financially feasible. The series of setbacks suffered by the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry is putting clean energy goals at risk.

But other projects are moving forward. Ørsted is moving forward with Eversource to build Revolution Wind, Rhode Island and Connecticut’s first large-scale offshore wind farm. The 704 megawatt project will power approximately 400,000 homes. Tower sections, blades and nacelles are expected to begin arriving in New London this spring.

South Fork and Revolution Wind are “a bright spot for a struggling industry,” said David Hardy, group executive vice president and CEO Americas at Ørsted.

“As we demonstrate that we can build this project and build the Revolution, then people will realize the real opportunity in offshore wind,” he said.

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