East Coast Leads Offshore Wind Derby

The Nysted wind farm off Denmark. Image: Cape Wind Assoc.

The Nysted wind farm off Denmark. Image: Cape Wind Assoc.

The nation’s first offshore utility-scale wind farm has won federal approval but it was no slam dunk. The Dept. of Interior has approved the 130-turbine Cape Wind project, off Nantucket.

The plan launched such an epic debate that at least one book has been written about it. Today’s nod comes just weeks after a federal advisory panel recommended against approval and doesn’t necessarily mean the project will go forward. Opposition groups have already vowed to go to court.

Cape Wind is just one of numerous offshore wind projects under consideration for the East Coast and Great Lakes region.

Permitting for most wind projects in California comes under local jurisdiction but a spokeswoman at the California Energy Commission told me that to her knowledge, no offshore wind projects are currently under review for California. An obstacle often cited is the extreme ocean depths off California, which make construction difficult. Various wave power projects have been proposed for the coastline.