The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has contracted the University of Rhode Island (URI) to document the effects of Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm on recreation and tourism in Rhode Island.
The two-year project is expected to yield the first available empirical data on the effects of a U.S. offshore wind farm on coastal recreation and tourism; a suite of indicators that can be used to assess the potential effects of future offshore wind energy projects throughout the U.S.; and a recommended subset of indicators that can be used to monitor the effects of the wind farm on Rhode Island’s recreation and tourism activities going forward.
These three products will help BOEM plan for the installation and management of future offshore wind energy projects in federal waters.
URI is supporting the project through the work of the Coastal Resources Center, which is dedicated to advancing coastal management worldwide; Rhode Island Sea Grant, one of 33 programs in the National Sea Grant college network working to enhance long-term economic development and responsible use of coastal and marine resources; the Department of Marine Affairs, which is part of URI’s College of Environment and Life Sciences; and the Harrington School of Communication and Media, which is within URI’s College of Arts & Sciences.
“This project will build upon BOEM’s completed and ongoing studies seeking to characterize the effects of offshore wind on recreation and tourism activities,” explains Amy Stillings, a BOEM industry economist from the Office of Renewable Energy Programs.
Rhode Island Sea Grant says an advisory committee – made up of local industry and community representatives, regulators, and social scientists – will ensure that the indicators are both rigorous and realistic and respond to the needs and issues of communities and stakeholders.
The 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, the U.S.’ first operational offshore wind project, came online in December and is now delivering power to the grid.