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Offshore Wind Farm One Step Closer to Becoming First in U.S.

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The Earth Policy Institute listed the Cape Wind project as one of three possibilities for the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., and a recent agreement makes that even more likely.

Siemens signed a contract before New Year's that will allow the German company to supply the $2.6 billion Cape Wind farm with 130 turbines for a potential output of 468 megawatts (MW), according to My Wind Power System. That amount is enough to power 75 percent of Cape Cod and the Islands.

In addition to the 3.6-MW turbines, Siemens will also provide an offshore electric service platform (ESP), maintenance and service for the first 15 years of commercial operation.

An artist's rendering of the Cape Wind Farm and a boat tour of the farm. Photo credit: Cape Wind

“This is a significant milestone for this project and we’re excited about it," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. "Massachusetts will be a pioneer in the emerging offshore wind industry, which brings with it both clean energy and good jobs.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the nation's coastal regions have the potential to host more than 4.1 million MW. Shallow waters along the eastern seaboard alone could host could host 530,000 MW, capable of covering more than 40 percent of the country's electricity generation.

Cape Wind received local, state and federal permitting in 2009 and 2010. The project was granted the first U.S. commercial offshore wind lease in October 2010. Power purchase agreements were met with National Grid and NSTAR between 2010 and 2012.

Siemens will subcontract the ESP to Cianbro, which will fabricate it at its Maine facility. The ESP will be located in the middle of the offshore wind farm site on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. It will transform the voltage of the power produced by Siemens' turbines.

Cape Wind could take about 18 months to construct. Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind, is convinced it will be the nation's first offshore wind farm.

"The completion and execution of the contracts between Cape Wind and Siemens brings the experience and financial strength of the leading global offshore wind supplier into America's first offshore wind farm ensuring important energy, environmental and economic benefits for Massachusetts and the region," he said.

Cape Wind spent the end of 2013 going after a massive $780 million investment tax credit that necessitated the project beginning construction by Jan. 1. Still, Audra Parker, director of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, told Bloomberg that the project faces five lawsuits and "is uncertain and in our estimation won’t happen because of the legal and financial challenges ... At this point they’ve been saying since 2005 that they’d start construction in the next year.”

December was also busy for Siemens. The company announced earlier in the month that MidAmerican Energy made the world's largest wind turbine order by purchasing 448 turbines to be deployed in five different projects in Iowa.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

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