Rhode Island’s Deepwater Wind will start installing the foundations for North America’s first offshore wind farm this past Monday, a milestone the company says could pave the way for an industry long established in Europe but that is still struggling with opposition in the United States. The 30-megawatt wind farm, which will include five turbines located three miles (4.8 km) off the coast of the bucolic summer tourist destination of Block Island, will take more than a year to build and is scheduled to produce electricity for the tiny island community and the mainland by the end of next year. Offshore wind projects have been delivering power in Europe since the 1990s, with nearly 2,500 turbines connected to the grid, but they have struggled to gain a foothold in the United States due to worries about cost, the esthetics of towering wind turbines within view from the coasts, and the impact on birds and whales. The foundations for Deepwater’s wind turbines were produced in Louisiana and will be fixed with pilings penetrating more than 150 feet (46 m) into the sea floor over the next few months. Deepwater said it had agreed to do the pile driving only when migrating whales are not in the area. The towers and turbines, produced by Alstom in France, will be installed next summer and fall.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis