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From Whales to Wind
Time Machine
Posted: September 01, 2023
  • 1 New Bedford whale to wind
    Offshore wind turbines stand in the ocean. People have been using wind for power for thousands of years. (AP/Michael Dwyer)
  • 2 New Bedford whale to wind
    Whaling was a dangerous job. (Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy)
  • 3 New Bedford whale to wind
    A ship carrying parts for offshore wind turbines arrives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. (AP/Rodrique Ngowi)
  • 4 New Bedford whale to wind
    A North Atlantic right whale dives in Cape Cod Bay near Provincetown, Massachusetts. (AP/Stephan Savoia)
  • 5 New Bedford whale to wind
    In 2021, the average home used about 886 kilowatts of electricity per month. Can you figure out how many watts that is?
  • 1 New Bedford whale to wind
  • 2 New Bedford whale to wind
  • 3 New Bedford whale to wind
  • 4 New Bedford whale to wind
  • 5 New Bedford whale to wind


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Got light in your house?

Once upon a time, that light may have come from New Bedford, Massachusetts. It was the city that lit the world . . . with whale oil.

Back in the early 1800s, workers crowded New Bedford’s docks. Heave! Ho! They unloaded barrels of oil that came from whales. This oil powered lamps people relied on for light.

Nearly 200 years have passed since then. But the people of New Bedford want to light the world again. Not with whales. With wind.

They get ready to build wind turbines—in the sea. When finished, these machines will tower more than 850 feet high. They won’t stand on land. They’ll attach to the ocean floor, making an “offshore wind farm.”

The turbines capture energy from wind. And if you’ve spent any time on the ocean, you know the sea has lots of wind for catching.

People in Europe built their first offshore wind farms decades ago. The United States is catching up. A company called Vineyard Wind is building a 62-turbine wind farm. It lies 15 miles off the Massachusetts coast.

How much power will it make? People guess it will put out 800 megawatts per year. That’s enough electricity to power more than 400,000 homes each year. Will more farms follow? Many say yes. President Biden wants Americans to produce 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. That would be enough to power more than 10 million homes.

About 100,000 people live in New Bedford. Many of them make money fishing and selling seafood. But the city needs more jobs. New wind farms might help.

The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. — Ecclesiastes 1:6

Why? As times change, people use their God-given creativity to make light and power in new ways.