A view from the shore of the five turbines making up Ørsted's Block Island Wind Farm, America's first offshore wind farm.

The Starting Five

Stories from America’s first offshore wind farm

Block Island Wind Farm

Back in 2016, the five diesel generators that powered Block Island, Rhode Island, were replaced by five offshore wind turbines – America’s starting five.

Today, five local people look back on what their island’s transition to clean energy has meant for them – and forward to a future where offshore wind powers many more communities across the country.

Stories from the community


A blue pictogram of an offshore wind turbine on water, representing Block Island's five 6MW offshore wind turbines.

5 turbines  

GE Haliade 150-6MW offshore wind turbines
A blue pictogram of a house, representing the 17,000 homes powered by Ørsted's Block Island Wind Farm.

17,000 homes

powered by offshore wind
A blue pictogram of a lightning bolt, representing the 10% of Block Island Wind Farm's power output used by the island.

10 percent

of the output covers 100% of Block Island’s power consumption – the rest is exported to the mainland
A blue pictogram of a man with a wrench, representing the 300 construction workers who built the Block Island Wind Farm.

300 local workers

involved in construction

Stories from Block Island

Hear from the local community as they share their take on the impact of offshore wind on their island home.
Bryan Wilson, former manager of the Block Island Wind Farm, tells a story of welcoming offshore wind to his community.

Stories from the community

Bryan Wilson

Find out how Bryan helped make Block Island Wind Farm a reality.

More community stories

Dr. Susan Gibbons, Block Island's only science teacher, tells her story about environmental stewardship and offshore wind.

Dr. Susan Gibbons

Block Island’s only science teacher is nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards.
Hank Hewitt, a professional angler on Block Island, tells his story about fishing, artificial reefs, and offshore wind.

Hank Hewitt

As a professional angler, one of the main reasons Hank likes Block Island Wind Farm has, in fact, little to do with energy.
Amira Wilson, an environmental activist from Block Island, tells her story about protecting ecosystems and offshore wind.

Amira Wilson

Amira is one of Block Island’s youngest environmental activists, with a mission to protect the island she loves and calls home.
Kim Gaffett, a bird bander on Block Island, tells her story about birds, migration, and offshore wind turbines.

Kim Gaffett

Just about everything Kim does involves a deep awareness of the wind. Hear a bird bander’s perspective.

What will offshore wind in America look like in five years?

Block Island Wind Farm may be small. But its construction marked the birth of a revolutionary new industry for America. Today, as the leading offshore wind energy company in the U.S., we’re building offshore wind projects spanning the East Coast from Rhode Island down to Maryland. Combined, they’ll have a generating capacity of 5 GW – more than 150 times that of Block Island Wind Farm.

This new industry is generating benefits and opportunities far inland, beyond those experienced by coastal communities like Block Island. With a new supply chain including manufacturing facilities across the Midwest, vessel construction on the Gulf Coast, and steel fabrication in the South, we’re helping usher in a new era of sustainable economic growth, equitable job creation, and clean energy that will benefit people across the nation for generations to come.

Five years from now, Ørsted will have delivered some of the country’s first large-scale offshore wind projects. We’re on track to generate enough clean, reliable electricity to power two million American homes by 2030. This will make a significant contribution to the U.S.’s goal to developing 30 GW offshore wind by that year.

Our approach - Ørsted

Our impact

Bringing together our global experience and unrivaled local expertise.

Environmental studies
  • Beached birds survey

    This project provided a general baseline for seabird fatalities on Block Island and supported systematic, regional beached-bird survey efforts. These regional surveys are effective tools for monitoring increases in harmful oil exposure rates to seabirds and can help inform scientific understanding of habitat change. For this survey, the Block Island Wind Farm team conducted biweekly beach surveys using standard search protocols for two years prior to wind operations and two years during operations. Identical numbers of carcasses were identified pre- and post-operations, and no discernible temporal patterns were observed.

    Beached birds survey (pdf)

  • Avian boat-based observational surveys

    For this project, Ørsted conducted four years’ worth of vessel-based avian surveys to assess the spatial distributions of birds in and adjacent to the Block Island Wind Farm. These surveys documented species composition, distribution, and density of birds in and adjacent to the offshore wind farm, and compared these metrics among project phases. While somewhat preliminary and small in scale, findings from the survey indicated potential wind turbine avoidance by some birds, thus reducing the risk of collision.

    Avian boat-based observational surveys (pdf)

  • Acoustic survey for birds and bats

    This proof-of-concept study helped determine if acoustic recorders are effective tools for identifying bird and bat species in the vicinity of offshore wind turbines. For birds, dual-channel acoustic recorders were installed at two Block Island Wind Farm turbines from 2017-2020, collecting more than two million acoustic files. For bats, acoustic recorders were installed at similar locations and operated over the same period. Data from the bird acoustic study provided guidance for improving methods and placement, and will inform monitoring activities at projects under development. Data from the bat study provided information on seasonal and temporal activity patterns and species composition.

    Acoustic survey for birds and bats (pdf)

  • Vessel-based acoustic survey for bats

    Twin acoustic surveys were designed to simultaneously monitor bat activity on two of the large barges used for the construction of Block Island’s offshore wind turbines. Bat activity was monitored on the two vessels as they traveled between the Block Island Wind Farm and the Port of Providence. Two ultrasonic acoustic detectors were deployed on each vessel and operated for approximately two weeks in August 2016 during construction. Substantial variability in bat pass rates was observed, and those bats that could be identified were discovered to be migratory tree-roosting bats.

    Vessel-based acoustic survey for bats (pdf)

The global leader in offshore wind - Ørsted

The U.S. leader in offshore wind

Our projects bring jobs, clean energy and economic opportunities to local communities