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Ohio will soon be home to North America’s first-ever freshwater offshore wind farm as legislators approved its plans, reported Gizmodo. The project, called the Icebreaker wind project, was unanimously voted in on Thursday by the Ohio Power Siting Board.
It is a six-turbine installation that will be constructed off the Lake Erie shore near downtown Cleveland. The Icebreaker wind project will generate 20.7 megawatts of energy or enough to power 7000 homes.
It should be noted that currently there are only five freshwater offshore wind farms in the world. This is due to the problems caused by ice water during the winter.
The Icebreaker farm has special technology for dealing with ice sheets. It consists of a design featuring large inverted cones that push the ice down and away from the turbines.
“The work that has gone into ensuring this project can safely operate in a freshwater setting opens up new possibilities for clean energy moving forward,” Miranda Leppla, vice president of energy policy for the Ohio Environmental Council, told Earther in an email.
“This particular demonstration project will help us not only achieve cleaner air and healthier communities, but it will also put Ohio on the map as a leader in renewable energy technologies as this project.”
This would be a huge boost in the U.S., which has lagged in offshore wind development to-date. While Europe has 105 offshore wind farms, the U.S. currently has only one up and running. But according to the U.S. Department of Energy, American shores have enough wind blowing to produce more than 2,000 gigawatts of power, or nearly double the nation’s current electricity use. Freshwater wind is a small but important piece of that puzzle.