Report: Offshore Wind Could Power Massachusetts 19 Times Over
NEW BEDFORD — Massachusetts could produce more energy from offshore wind than any other state, according to a new report from the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center.
“We have a practically limitless clean energy resource off our shores,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for the Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. “Tapping into our offshore wind potential means cleaner air, healthier communities, and the chance to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
According to the report, Wind Energy to Spare: The Enormous Energy Potential of Atlantic Offshore Wind, Massachusetts’ offshore wind potential is equivalent to more than 19 times the state’s annual electricity consumption. If all heating and transportation in Massachusetts were converted from fossil fuels to electric power, offshore wind could still produce eight times as much energy as the Commonwealth consumes each year.
“New Bedford has worked hard to position itself as an offshore wind energy leader,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “We are the closest industrial port to 25 percent of all offshore wind reserves in the U.S., and as the nation’s top-grossing fishing port, there’s already a strong foundation of maritime industries and ocean science institutions to support the industry’s growth here. So the notion that offshore wind can be a major economic driver is anything but speculative.”
Offshore wind is a proven technology overseas. In Europe, 4,100 offshore wind turbines supply enough electricity to power more than 20 million homes each day.
There are now 13 leased offshore wind projects moving forward in the United States, which could provide enough electricity to power approximately 5.2 million homes. In December, three companies submitted proposals to develop the first offshore wind farm providing power to Massachusetts.
"Atlantic coastal states use more than a quarter of the nation’s energy,” said Gideon Weissman, a policy analyst with Frontier Group and an author of the report. "Offshore wind is the ideal resource for these states. It’s clean, it’s renewable, and it’s conveniently located near our biggest cities.”
According to the report, wind turbines installed off the coast of Rhode Island that began operating in December 2016 are able to produce approximately 30 times the annual power than the first turbines off the coast of Denmark generated in 1991.
The turbines have more than doubled in height over that time, from 35 meters in 1991 to 100 meters in 2016. According to the report, that increased size has driven down reductions in cost, allowing for the generation of more power in a smaller area of ocean.
In fact, the report says the estimated cost of energy from new offshore wind fell from $155 per MWh in 2012 to $113 per MWh in 2017, a 27 percent decline.
“It’s not a question of if we will power Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy, it’s a question of when,” said Hellerstein. “Offshore wind will play a critical role in our clean, renewable future. The sooner we can tap into our offshore wind potential, the better off we’ll be.”