The Department of the Interior just announced the approval of New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm. Ocean Wind 1, located about 13 nautical miles southeast of Atlantic City, will have an estimated capacity of 1,100 megawatts and will be capable of powering more than 380,000 homes with clean energy. The project will include up to 98 turbines and three offshore substations.
Ocean Wind 1 is being developed by Danish renewable energy company Ørsted and is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.
That’s all great news for the future of renewable energy in New Jersey and the United States. However, one New Jersey county is attempting to fight against the construction of the wind farm, claiming that it will adversely affect marine life and also that the wind turbines will be “visible from every beach in Cape May County.” (Apparently, seeing wind turbines is a bad thing.)
Claims that wind farms will harm marine life have persistently cropped up along with every offshore wind project in the United States. They are not based in reality, however — rather, they are the result of a (so far) successful right-wing misinformation campaign financially backed by the fossil fuel industry, which sees renewable energy as a threat to its profits.
Fossil fuels are, of course, much more harmful to marine life than offshore wind farms could ever be, having resulted in things like oil spills along with a litany of other adverse environmental consequences.
“Growing up in California, I had to put up with seeing oil rigs along the coast. I’d rather have 1,000 of these wind turbines, and they don’t spill oil,” wrote one of Electrek’s commenters.
Electrek’s Michelle Lewis communicated with the group opposing the New Jersey offshore wind farm and found, predictably, that their claims lacked scientific credibility. She wrote, in part:
“The Cape May folks state that they don’t feel heard or respected by Ørsted, but it’s not clear what it is that they actually want. They cite a Harvard Gazette story in their press release — I had to ask them for it, as there was no link — called ‘The Downside to Wind Power,’ which isn’t about offshore wind farms; it’s about land-based wind farms. And they also sent me an article from the UK’s conservative-leaning Telegraph by Bryan Leyland, a climate denial activist from New Zealand.”
Unfortunately, anti-offshore wind farm misinformation has spread all over social media, exacerbated by NIMBYism (standing for “not in my back yard,” a phenomenon when people reflexively oppose anything new being built in the area in which they live) and social media platforms like Facebook irresponsibly promoting conspiracy theories because they get a lot of web traffic.
The good news, though, is that it appears that Ocean Wind 1 is moving forward despite all the misinformation, meaning that hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents will soon be enjoying clean, renewable energy whether they oppose it or not.
Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.