(3BL Media/Justmeans) -Â Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, is only 48 miles long. However, it has 400 miles of coastline, which has been essential to its economy. As the nation searches for new, clean sources of energy, and while neighboring Massachusetts, has seen its Cape Wind offshore wind project mired in legal battles, the tiny Ocean State is quietly moving forward with a project of its own.
On July 26th, work began on the foundation structures for a small offshore wind farm off Block Island, which will likely be Americaâs first offshore wind farm to be completed. With a capacity of only 30 MW, it is tiny compared to the 8,759 MW of offshore wind currently installed around the world. Most of that is in Northern Europe. But then, that is tiny compared with the 369,597 MW of the total global wind production as of the end of 2014, more than 50,000 of which was just added last year. Itâs also worth noting that nearly half of that new capacity went up in China.
The global offshore wind potential is enough to meet the entire current US electricity demand four times over. Unfortunately, right here in the US, the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) was allowed to expire last year, which has taken some of the wind out of the growing industryâs sails. A total of 1,994 MW was installed in the first half of this year, which is better than last year, but well below the pace set in 2012. Extension of the PTC, which has driven some $100 billion in private investment, was approved by the Senate Finance Committee in July, but still awaits the approval of the full Congress.