Offshore wind energy installations (OREIs), also known as offshore wind farms, are becoming a reality for mariners in the Mid Atlantic region.
In 2016, Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) became the first commercial offshore wind farm in the USA. The 5 turbine wind power installation is located 3 miles southeast of Block Island.
The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project consists of a pilot and a commercial-scale project. In 2020, the two offshore wind energy turbine pilot project became the first offshore wind farm installed in federal waters. When completed, the CVOW commercial project 2.6 gigawatt wind farm will consist of 176 wind turbines, making it the largest offshore wind project in the United States.
Additional offshore wind projects are proposed or under development in the Mid Atlantic region.
The United States Wind Turbine Database (USWTDB) provides the locations of land-based and offshore wind turbines in the United States, corresponding wind project information, and turbine technical specifications.
Offshore wind platforms and turbines are easily identifiable to mariners. With heights of 500 feet or more, wind energy platforms are visible from small craft from great distances. In addition, lights, AIS ATONs, and other safety measures are used to alert mariners.
Offshore wind power turbine platforms are known to provide habitat for fish and marine life. In Mid Atlantic waters, offshore wind infrastructure attracts many of the same fish species that inhabit artificial reefs.
Public access around OREIs for recreational and commercial fishing is a hot topic in the region.
To aid mariners, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) published Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 03-23: Guidance on Navigational Safety In and Around Offshore Renewable Energy Installations (OREI).
Throughout the Mid Atlantic region, Wind ports and other onshore infrastructure provide OREI support. Mid Atlantic wind ports in varying stages of design and construction include New Jersey Wind Port, Baltimore County Offshore Wind Manufacturing Hub, and Fairwinds Landing Offshore Wind Logistics Facility (Norfolk).