The US uses an astounding amount of energy: about 97 quadrillion BTUs, or about 18% of world’s total energy consumption. And demand is only going to increase over time.
The vast majority of the energy the country consumes comes from fossil fuels, and isn’t renewable or sustainable. But wind farms offer a promising alternative.
GE and Deepwater Wind, a developer of offshore turbines, have partnered to build five massive wind turbines and install them in the Atlantic Ocean. They make up the first offshore wind farm in North America, called the Block Island Wind Farm. The turbines started delivering power to the New England grid on May 5, and effectively helped shut down a diesel plant that previously provided electricity to Block Island.
The team began installing the turbines 30 miles off the coast of Rhode Island over the summer, and construction was completed in late August 2016. The farm’s four-month testing phase, which produced more than one gigawatt-hour of electricity, ended on December 2, 2016.
Check out how the wind farm was made.
The Block Island Wind Farm is rated at 30 megawatts, which is the amount required to power every home on Block Island, Eric Crucerey, the farm’s project manager, tells Business Insider. It will emit about 40,000 fewer tons of greenhouse gases per year than fossil fuels would to generate the same amount of energy. That’s the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.
The potential for offshore wind energy in the US is massive. If we build in all of the available ocean space, the winds above coastal waters could provide more than 4,000 gigawatts a year. That’s more than four times the nation’s current annual production.