The Cape Wind offshore wind project is officially dead. Situated just off the coast of Massachusetts, the wind farm was the object of some ire from the Kennedy and Koch families back in the day.
Once expected to be the first offshore wind farm in the United States, all efforts to build the facility have completely ceased. Indeed, the farm’s developer, which is based in Boston, has informed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that its development lease from 2010 has been ended.
The closure of this wind farm is by no means sudden. In fact, Cape Wind has been slowly but surely moving towards death for some time now. From the get go the wind project came up against heavy opposition from powerhouse families, including that of the billionaire industrialist William Koch. The aim of Cape Wind was to supply energy to Cape Cod as well as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Despite Energy Management, the company in charge of the wind farm, coming out of numerous court cases victorious, the final blow came when its contracts to sell power to local utilities was cancelled in 2015.
On Friday, Amy Grace, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, praised Jim Gordon, founder of Energy Management. She said he was a visionary and said, “he brought the project to the goal-post. He just faced a very vicious and very well-funded lobbying organization to protect Nantucket Sound.”
Originally, the plan was to build up to 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound. It was predicted to be a pioneering movement for the United States towards a future of clean energy. The project was given the go ahead to build upon and develop an area 5 miles off the shore of Cape Cod. It was estimated by the U.S Energy Department that, once at full capacity, Cape Wind could have generated enough electricity to power 200,000 households.
Overall, the total cost of the project was going to be $2.6 billion and had already received a conditional loan guarantee of $150 million. It also had a number of big backers willing to offer debt packages and equity investments. These names included Mitsubishi, Siemens and Rabobank.
However, in the end all the backing it received couldn’t save it from its untimely death. The opposition proved too much and the project was called off. On the one hand, environmental activists said the wind farm would be a good thing and would decrease dependence on fossil fuels. This was countered on the other hand with shore-front real estate owners who said that the farm would ruin the views from Cape Cod and could interfere with fishing areas.
The project was hit with lawsuit after lawsuit and was seriously delayed, causing it to miss a number of contractual milestones. This is what led to its power supply contracts being cancelled in 2015. When this happened analysts declared the project ‘all but dead’.
Clearly the lesson to be learnt from all of this is simple: don’t build your wind farm within sight of the shore.