What is Wind Power?
Wind turbines capture the natural wind in our atmosphere, convert it into mechanical energy, and then to electricity. Today’s wind turbine is a highly evolved version of the windmills that were used to generate wind power centuries ago. Most wind turbines have three blades and range in size from 80 feet tall that can power a single home, to utility-scale turbines that are over 350 feet tall and power thousands of homes.
How Wind Energy Works
When wind blows past a turbine, the blades capture the energy and rotate. This rotation triggers an internal shaft to spin, causing the internal generator to produce electricity. A wind turbine is equipped with wind assessment equipment and will automatically rotate into the face of the wind and angle or “pitch” its blades to optimize energy capture – generating the maximum amount of electricity possible for our homes and businesses.
Wind Energy in the United States
The United States has abundant wind resources across the country. The current estimate of wind energy potential is 10 times the amount of electricity consumption for the entire United States. Already, land-based wind farms produce about 10,000 MW of power — that’s nearly as much wind power as is generated by Europe’s offshore wind industry, which employs more than 75,000 workers. The US Department of Energy has set a goal of 300,000 MW of wind power by 2030, with offshore wind providing 54,000 MW of that total. Much of it from right off the New England coast, home to some of the planet’s most reliable winds.
The United States has a goal of generating 300,000 MW of wind energy by 2030, and with strong and consistent winds off our coasts, offshore wind has the potential to provide 54,000 MW of energy towards this national goal. How much power is 54,000 MW? Enough to provide electricity to more than 12 million homes.
Generating Economic Development
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by 2030 there will be 43,000 offshore wind related jobs on the East Coast. The development of this new national growth industry has the potential to create jobs, attract substantial private sector investments, and generate long-term economic growth in New Bedford, the SouthCoast and across Massachusetts. New Bedford’s first-mover status in this emerging industry, its close proximity to offshore wind sites, specialized port infrastructure, and experienced maritime workforce positions the city to assemble, deploy and maintain a pipeline of multi-billion dollar offshore wind projects in the years ahead. Over time, this project pipeline will create thousands of jobs at every step of the supply chain, from offshore permitting to turbine design, from construction management to component manufacturing to operation and maintenance.
Combating Climate Change
Across the SouthCoast of Massachusetts, we recognize the critical threat that climate change represents to our fundamental way of life. Offshore wind farms directly combat the effects of climate change by providing a utility-scale source of clean energy and reducing the need for fossil-fuel power production. An average utility-scale wind farm has the potential to eliminate more than 650,000 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted into our atmosphere annually – a significant step in securing a cleaner future for our environment.
Controlling our Energy Future
Since 1970, the usage of electricity in New England has doubled. Technological needs and population growth will continue to drive up demand for energy in the years ahead. Although important, conservation and energy efficiency alone will not be enough to meet this challenge. Investments in domestic renewable energy sources, such as offshore wind, can provide abundant clean energy to meet increased demand without consuming scarce natural resources, polluting the environment, or relying on imported non-renewable energy sources.
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