Windfarm slated for Cape Cod coast

Construction of a 197-foot windmill off the Cape Cod coastline will likely begin this fall, the first of a series of such devices that will form the East Coast’s first offshore windfarm. Cape Wind, a Boston-based company seeking to build the farm, received permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this past summer to erect the prototype windmill, which will serve as a test for the viability of the windfarm itself.

The $2 million windmill, and the future windfarm, will be erected at Horseshoe Shoal, a shallow bank located some five to 10 miles off Cape Cod. The prototype, designed to gather data and evaluate the overall design of the equipment, will monitor wind direction, velocity, seawater salinity, ocean currents and wave height. The project has required numerous approvals from regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, for safe navigation in the area, the Cape Cod Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Corps of Engineers. If approved for construction, the windfarm will include 170 windmills spaced six to nine football fields apart and will be constructed within the next five years, according to Cape Wind. The structures would reportedly be lit and indicated on all future charts.

Horseshoe Shoal was selected for its unique environmental conditions, which include shallow water and strong, steady winds throughout the year. In the 1800s, more than 1,000 windmills were in operation on Cape Cod, according to the company. Cape Wind seeks to provide 400 megawatts of electricity, enough to power roughly half of Cape Cod's needs on a given day, more during periods of strong winds.

By Ocean Navigator