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Boom in wind-power firms

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Boom in wind-power firms

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BOSTON – Massachusetts could soon be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm – and state officials are hoping to use the Cape Wind project to help fuel a small but burgeoning local wind-power energy boom.

There are already more than a half-dozen companies staking out their claim to the state’s wind energy landscape, from designing better turbine blades to marketing high-tech machines that can measure wind speeds and directions from the ground.
And when the nation’s largest wind blade testing facility opens early next year on Boston’s waterfront, officials are hoping to draw even more business.
“We’ve been aggressive in looking to grow the wind energy cluster in Massachusetts,” said Ian Bowles, the state’s secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
The bragging rights around the 130-turbine Cape Wind project slated for construction in Nantucket Sound have acted as a lure, according to Bowles.
“In the wind industry that’s seen as a very big deal,” he said. “Add to that a testing facility that has the largest capacity in the world for testing the largest blades in the world and you are going to see a lot of large wind blades coming into Boston.”
Some of the companies trying to take advantage of the boom have long roots in the state.
Second Wind was created in Somerville in 1980 by graduates from Tufts University, Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Three decades later the company still relies on the state’s brain power to fuel its latest innovations.
That includes a ground-based system that can measure wind directions and speeds up to 600 feet by sending sound pulses into the air and listen for the echo.
“Wind measurement is one of the first steps in developing a wind farm,” said Second Wind General Manager Susan Giordano. “If you don’t know how much wind you have, you won’t know how much energy you will produce.” (AP)