In the next 10 years more than 2,000 wind turbines will likely be constructed along the Atlantic coastline. In the Northeast, although the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island state waters is the only established wind farm, at least 7 commercial lease blocks have been purchased by various developers, with more leases being identified in the Gulf of Maine. Promoting the co-existence of offshore wind and other more traditional uses could be an effective tool to meet the energy, food, and recreational demands of coastal communities, while considering the sustainable health of this rich ecosystem. Already this offshore region is heavily used by commercial (both mobile and fixed gear) and recreational fishing, shipping, and tourism. The defense industry, and research and academic institutions are also active in executing military exercises and research and undersea technology development, respectfully.
The multi-use focus of this effort will allow resource users, regulators, practitioners and others to identify and implement technical, policy, and process strategies to minimize conflict and encourage synergies amongst these different activities.
To foster international collaboration and knowledge, this case study will be paired with the Swedish case led by the Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm (KTH). The introduction of offshore wind farms is a common theme across both cases, and it is anticipated that lessons learned on how to plan for offshore wind installations in combination with other uses will be a key focus of this exchange.
Representatives from government, local and regional business, and research institutions (see below) have formally agreed to participate in the development of these scenarios with the expectation that results will contribute to responding to current and long-term economic, environmental, and use conflict the region is facing. In addition, many of these organizations are networked with similar programs nationally, which will allow for results to be communicated and possibly applied more broadly. Results could also potentially be incorporated into existing planning efforts. The Northeast Ocean Plan, for example summarizes the ocean planning process and is a guide for agency decisions and practices that advance progress toward regional goals for the management of our public ocean resources. BOEM is considering the cumulative impacts of offshore wind in the Northeast and beyond in its Vineyard Wind 1 Offshore Wind Energy Project Supplement to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement which lays out BOEM’s thinking about cumulative effects of offshore wind wihtin the area. In addition all four states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) all have coastal managment plans which frequently amended for state waters.