American offshore wind sector still generating news

» By | Published 15 Dec 2010

There’s no shortage of developments in the US offshore wind power sector these days even though there is still not a single wind turbine generating power off the nation’s eastern coast.

Capturing most media attention last week was Deepwater Wind which announced its plans to construct the Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC), the first of the ‘second generation’ of offshore wind farms in the US.

Deepwater said the new facility would have a capacity of approximately 1,000 megawatts (MW) and the ability to act as a regional offshore wind energy center serving multiple states.

“DWEC is an important step in moving toward a U.S.-based, clean-energy future,” the company said, adding the facility will be sited in the deep ocean waters of southern Rhode Island Sound, where it will be barely visible from the shore.

Construction is planned to begin in 2014, with the first wind turbines in operation by the end of 2015. According to the Rhode Island News, the wind farm would cost an estimated $4.5 billion to $5 billion, and the transmission system an additional $500 million to $1 billion.

“This ‘second generation’ of offshore wind farms will be larger and farther from shore, and will produce lower priced power, using more advanced technology than the offshore projects announced to date,” Deepwater CEO William M. Moore said in a company press release.

“We expect the offshore wind industry in the United States to follow the European experience, where a more mature industry is building larger projects farther from shore.”

The company added that, as the US offshore wind industry matures, its power price will “become increasingly competitive with plants that burn fossil fuels — but without the environmental problems that plague fossil fuel plants.”

Deepwater’s announcement came a week after a report by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) which found that up to six gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind projects have been proposed along the Atlantic Coast — the equivalent of about five coal-fired power plants and enough to power about 1.5 million average US homes.

The report also noted that, based on government analysis, the Atlantic Ocean has significant offshore wind potential, with over 212 GW of wind resources in shallow waters where current technology is best suited.

“The six gigawatts of proposed Atlantic offshore wind projects are a great start, but we need a coordinated and comprehensive effort of government and the market to bring these and other projects over the finish line in a way that values the precious Atlantic Ocean ecosystem and its fish and wildlife resources,” said Curtis Fisher, NWF Regional Executive Director.

“This new industry holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels.”

Categories: Climate change