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Energy firms bet on offshore wind farms in America

发布日期:2019-08-13        新闻来源:The Economist

The future of clean energy depends on meetings like the one held at a small hotel in a small city in Massachusetts last month. Residents of New Bedford came together to voice their opinions about an offshore wind proposal from a company called Vineyard Wind. To date, such projects have not fared well in America; opponents have blocked big offshore wind farms. But opposition has dwindled. Though lobstermen fretted about local crustacea, supporters of the project in New Bedford touted the new jobs that would be on offer. Bureaucrats overseeing the plan offered heart-shaped chocolates at the sign-in table. If Vineyard Wind secures the necessary approvals, the project would be, astonishingly, America’s first large offshore wind farm. Construction could begin by the end of the year.

After nearly two decades of fighting, the wind industry is poised to sweep into American waters. In February a number of European energy giants, including Royal Dutch Shell, edf, Equinor and Orsted, bid to build New York’s first offshore wind project, with a decision due this spring. Other plans are moving forward, from Virginia to New Hampshire. In total, states have sanctioned nearly 17,000 megawatts of offshore wind power. This increase is almost as large as Europe’s entire offshore wind market. Yet America remains perilous for wind developers, not just because of lingering opposition, but owing to a lack of a local supply chain to help with turbine construction. Ports seem inadequate to handle all the work. For global energy firms these are big risks, but they could be more than offset by the potential rewards.

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