April 28, 2010

Cape Cod Wind Farm Gets Green Light

Approval of 130-turbine project could open up similar development all along the Atlantic coast

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It's been nine years in the making, but the Department of the Interior has finally given the go-ahead to a $1 billion project to develop U.S.'s first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound, off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

At a press conference held April 28, at the Massachusetts Statehouse, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his department's approval of the 130-turbine farm, which many alternative energy investors hope will give a kick start to the development of a wind power industry in the U.S. In announcing approval of the project, Salazar said this will be the first of many projects to be developed along the Atlantic coast.

The Cape Wind farm, which would cover some 24 square miles, still has some battles ahead of it as opponents, such as the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, which was formed in 2001 to fight the proposal, are expected to go to court in a continued attempt to kill the project.

The project has seen environmental groups and politicians normally allied come down on different sides. The Sierra Club and Greenpeace are in favor as is Massachusetts's current Democratic governor Deval Patrick. The late Senator Ted Kennedy and his replacement, Republican Scott Brown have both been public in their opposition, with Brown issuing a press release immediately following the Salazar announcement.

The same day as Secretary Salazar's announcement, nawindpower.com, announced the commissioning of Germany's first offshore wind project which is expected to initially provide 60MW of power from 12 turbines, although Norbert Rottgen, Germany's federal environmental minister noted that the goal was to have an installed offshore capacity of 25,000MW by 2030. There are already wind farms operating off the coasts of Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, and China.

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