US approves construction of first offshore wind farm

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The US government on Tuesday approved a plan to build the country's first offshore wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, a popular Massachusetts holiday destination.

Installation of 130, 3.6-megawatt wind turbine generators with blades of up to 440 feet (134 meters), built by German company Siemens, could begin in Nantucket Sound by the autumn, the Department of the Interior said in a statement announcing that the Cape Wind Project was finally going ahead.

The project, which was first put forward in September 2001, has undergone "an unprecedented level of environmental and regulatory analysis," according to the plan approved by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), part of the Interior Department.

The US government only signed off on the project after "a thorough review of environmental impacts," said BOEMRE director Michael Bromwich.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said adding that "extraordinary steps" have been taken "to fully evaluate Cape Wind's potential impacts on environmental and cultural resources of Nantucket Sound."

Once completed, the wind farm is expected to supply around three-quarters of the annual energy requirements of Cape Cod and the nearby islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, and cut carbon dioxide emissions in Massachusetts by more than 733,000 tons a year.

© 2011 AFP

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