Does the recent announcement of a new 400 MW offshore wind farm lessen Rhode Island’s need for large-scale solar projects?
Rhode Island’s construction of the nation’s first offshore wind farm was a pioneering endeavor for the integration of renewable energy. However, any single technology will not transform the entirety of the energy sector. The only way renewables can be responsibly deployed is by cohering multiple forms of energy into the grid. Although the developments with offshore wind energy are an auspicious result, the use of other technologies, including solar, needs to advance concurrently.
I. Rhode Island pioneered the first operational offshore wind farm in the United States, a project with 30 MW nameplate capacity. Furthermore, Deepwater Wind, the company that developed the 30 MW demonstration project, is slated to engineer a 400 MW wind farm .
II. Despite advances with offshore wind, Rhode Island targets to produce 1000 MW of renewable energy by 2020. In order to do this sustainably, a diversity of technologies must be incorporated. Over-reliance on one form could lead to instability for consumers. Investment in solar and other renewable sources is an important step in diversifying energy sources and striving towards renewable energy goals.
III. Offshore wind, though rightly heralded as a success story, is not without consequence. There is widespread concern among squid fishermen that catch will be disrupted by the 400 MW Deepwater project . Massachusetts’ adjacent Vineyard Wind project has likewise spawned dissent among Rhode Island fishermen, who fear disruption of their fishing grounds . Invariably, any single renewable technology will have drawbacks, but using an assortment of technologies can minimize their cumulative faults.