US to get first offshore wind farm

By Chris Sleight29 April 2010

The US government has given the final go ahead for the Cape Wind project, a 130 turbine offshore wind farm scheme in Nantucket Sound. Located off the north-east coast of the US, it will be the country's first offshore wind farm.

The project is rated at 468 MW, and is expected to provide up to 75% of the energy requirements for nearby Cape Cod and the Islands of Martha's Vineyard. The wind farm will be located 5.2 miles (8.4 km) from the nearest land and more than 13 miles (21 km) from the town of Nantucket.

The construction phase is expected to take two years, and the basic design calls for 258 ft (78.6 m) high pylons, with the windmill blades measuring 183 ft (56 m) in length.

The project has been developed by Energy Management Inc. (EMI). EMI, a Massachusetts-based energy company, and it has faced stiff competition from local pressure groups that claimed the turbines would interfere with fishing, local aircraft and ferry services. Emotional arguments have also been used, with protestors claiming the project represents the industrialisation of a hitherto unspoilt area.

However, environmental impact assessments raised few concerns, although the various protests have meant it has taken the scheme nine years to reach this final stage of approval.

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