A planned offshore wind farm may power 50,000 New York homes

by Sophie Yang, ’19

On Jan. 25, the state of New York approved a plan to build the South Fork Wind Farm located off the coast of Long Island. It will be largest offshore wind farm in the United States, occupying 256 square miles of ocean with about 200 turbines. Once completed, it could power 50,000 homes.

The company developing the wind farm, Deepwater Wind, said that construction will start around 2019, and it will hopefully be completed by 2022. Until then, the company will be creating maps of the ocean floors to decide where each turbine should be set.

Turbines run at the Walney Wind Farm off the coast of England, one of the largest in the world with 102 turbines. However, the South Fork Wind Farm will be larger and contain almost double the turbines. Photo courtesy David Dixon.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was optimistic about the wind farm.

“This project will not only provide a new, reliable source of clean energy but will also create high-paying jobs, continue our efforts to combat climate change and help preserve our environment,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Cuomo set a goal for New York to get half of its power from renewable energy by 2030, so the wind farm will also work toward achieving that goal.

UAHS environmental science teacher Beth Bailey also supported South Fork Wind Farm and believes it can set an example for future renewable energy projects.

“I think it could be a great opportunity,” Bailey said. “I know there’s positives and negatives to every type of energy source, but once [wind energy] is paid for… you’re basically operating on a pretty cheap source of energy.”

Bailey also said that despite the drawbacks of wind energy, the wind farm is a step toward depending less on fossil fuels.

“The big advantage is that you’re basically getting free energy from the wind if you can harness it, but it’s intermittent, so they need to figure out a way to make it sustainable with another source,” Bailey said. “[But] it can be a good, clean source with no emissions, [and] from what I understand, there’s an opportunity for it to really expand.”

However, some people oppose wind farms for reasons such as killing birds and impacting nearby animals with low-frequency sound. Others have opposed offshore wind farms since they affect views of the ocean; however, it’s been determined that the South Fork Wind Farm will be mostly imperceptible from the shore.