Massachusetts might be getting a massive new wind farm that uses Tesla batteries to store energy.
Deepwater Wind, a wind energy development company, has proposed a 144-megawatt wind farm with 40-megawatt hours of battery storage for a site 30 miles from mainland Massachusetts and 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, the company announced Tuesday.
In 2008, Massachusetts passed a law requiring the state to “establish goals and meet targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.” Under the law, titled the Climate Protection and Green Economy Act, the state pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
Last year, a court ruled that the state had not acted adequately to meet its emissions reductions goals. Following the ruling, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) signed an executive order directing state agencies to, essentially, do better.
Electricity accounts for roughly a third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, so meeting any goals for reducing emissions includes changing how electricity is generated. In April, the state issued a request for clean energy proposals, due Friday. The request was put forward by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) in conjunction with the state’s utilities, specifically to meet state emissions reduction goals. Deepwater Wind hopes to be one of the contracts that moves forward.
At 144-MW, Revolution Wind will be able to power roughly 80,000 homes and is nearly five times as big as Deepwater Wind’s previous U.S. development, a 30-MW wind farm off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, that went online in November. Block Island had previously sourced most of its electricity from diesel generators.
According to the company, Revolution Wind will be the “largest combined offshore wind and energy storage project in the world.”
Battery storage is considered a critical component for intermittent energy sources — such as wind or solar. Because electricity is deployed in real time, at the moment it is needed, utilities have historically used “peaker plants” to handle high demand and baseload plants for continuous demand. Peaker plants are often run off natural gas and can produce electricity quickly, but are less efficient. Baseload, which has been primarily coal for much of the country’s history, provides a steady output. With storage, utilities can gather wind energy as it is generated and deploy it as it is needed.
“People may be surprised by just how affordable and reliable this clean energy combo will be,” Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski said in a statement. “Offshore wind is mainstream and it is coming to the U.S. in big way.”
The current project is small enough to develop in a “single building season,” the company said, and developers will be able to “phase in later projects,” if needed.
“Revolution Wind is flexible and scalable. That’s a serious advantage of offshore wind — we can build to the exact size utilities need,” Grybowski said. “We can build a larger project if other New England states want to participate now or we can start smaller to fit into the region’s near-term energy gaps. And our pricing at any size will be very competitive with the alternatives.”
Deepwater Wind also announced it would base its operations in New Bedford, Massachusetts, a port town that was once the world’s whaling center. The company said it would create hundreds of jobs for the region.
Overall, the wind industry employs more than 100,000 people, according to the Department of Energy.