Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Sparks

Orsted Powers Up America’s First Major Offshore Wind Farm

The South Fork Wind project off the coast of Long Island just delivered the U.S.'s first utility-scale offshore wind power.

An offshore wind farm.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Out in the Atlantic Ocean, 35 miles off the eastern tip of Long Island, sits a single, mammoth wind turbine. On Wednesday, its oscillating blades started sending power into the New York grid.

The South Fork Wind Farm is officially the first utility-scale offshore wind project operating in the United States.

The turbine was installed just two weeks ago with union labor, and it’s the first of 12 that are expected to be completed by early 2024. Each one will have three blades measuring 318 feet from base to tip, or about twice the length of an olympic-sized swimming pool. When completed, the project will have the capacity to meet the electricity needs of some 70,000 homes on Long Island. New York officials estimate the project will eliminate up to 6 million tons of carbon emissions per year, similar to taking 60,000 cars off the road.

South Fork is one of two offshore wind farms currently under construction in the northeast. The other, Vineyard Wind, will sell power to Massachusetts and will be five times larger, with 62 turbines able to power more than 400,000 homes. Shortly after South Fork powered up on Wednesday, Avangrid, the project developer behind Vineyard Wind, announced that it had installed five turbines which would begin delivering power “in the coming weeks.”

South Fork Wind was first approved by the Long Island Power Authority in 2017. Its operation is a major milestone as the once-promising offshore wind industry has taken a beating of late from inflation, high interest rates, and supply chain constraints. Two projects that were under development further north — Commonwealth Wind and SouthCoast Wind — pulled out of their contracts with Massachusetts earlier this year, citing cost increases.

Then in early November, Orsted, one of the companies behind South Fork, canceled plans to develop two offshore wind farms near New Jersey. A spokesperson for Orsted also told Heatmap that the viability of one of its other, much larger projects contracted in New York — Sunrise Wind — was “extremely challenged.”

The turbulence in the industry threatens climate goals throughout the northeast, where offshore wind offers an ideal solution for dense cities with limited space to put solar or wind arrays on land. New York aims to have 100% clean power by 2040, with 9 gigawatts of offshore wind contributing to the target by 2035. Once the 12 turbines that make up South Fork are completed, it will be 1% of the way there.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article misstated the percent of progress the South Fork project will represent for New York's offshore wind goal.

Yellow

Emily Pontecorvo

Emily is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Previously she was a staff writer at the nonprofit climate journalism outlet Grist, where she covered all aspects of decarbonization, from clean energy to electrified buildings to carbon dioxide removal. Read More

Read More
Sparks

Biden’s $7 Billion Solar Bonanza

The Solar For All program is the final piece of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

Solar panel installation.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The great promise of solar panels — in addition to their being carbon-free — is the democratization of energy. Anyone can produce their own power, typically for less than the going utility rate. The problem is that those who stand to benefit the most from this opportunity haven’t been able to access it.

That pattern could change, however, with Solar for All, a $7 billion program under the Environmental Protection Agency to support solar in low- to moderate-income communities. On Monday, the Biden administration announced it was awarding the funds to 60 state and local governments, tribes, and national and regional nonprofits, at an average grant size of more than $80 million.

Keep reading...Show less
Green
Offshore wind.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Things are looking down again for New York’s embattled offshore wind industry.

The state is abandoning all three of the offshore wind projects it awarded conditional contracts to last October, after failing to secure final agreements with any of the developers, Politico reported Friday.

Keep reading...Show less
Blue
Sparks

Forever Chemical Enforcement Just Got Even Stronger

In addition to regulating PFAS presence in water, the EPA will now target pollution at the source.

Drinking water and the periodic table.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Last week, I reported on the Environmental Protection Agency’s monumental new restrictions on “forever chemicals” in Americans’ drinking water. At the time, I stressed that the issue doesn’t end with the water that flows out of our kitchen and bathroom taps — the government also has a responsibility to hold polluters accountable at the source.

On Friday, the EPA did just that, designating perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, a.k.a. PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, more commonly known as the Superfund law.

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow