Offshore wind farms could soon be operating in Texas waters

» By | Published 04 Aug 2011

Texas, the US leader in installed wind energy capacity, may soon be boasting offshore wind facilities as well.

Baryonyx Corporation, an Austin-based company, has ambitious plans to build three offshore wind farms near South Padre Island and Corpus Christi.

According to The Brownsville Herald, Baryonyx submitted in June its project permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which will almost certainly call for an environmental impact statement, a process that could take almost three years to complete.

The Texas General Land Office has already granted the company three offshore lease sites totaling more than 67,650 acres. Water depths range from 17 to 27 metres.

Baryonyx says its proposed offshore wind farm near Corpus Christi could accommodate approximately 200 multi-megawatt offshore wind turbines resulting in a potential installed capacity of close to 1.2 GW.

The company says the two sites planned near South Padre Island each have the potential of featuring about 160 multi-megawatt offshore wind turbines, resulting in installed capacity of close to 1.0 GW per site.

Baryonyx is considering using 5 or 6 MW turbines for the projects.

Mark Leyland, senior vice president of offshore wind projects for Baryonyx, discussed the offshore projects at a public meeting last week in Brownsville.

The Herald quoted Leyland as saying that one of the advantages of offshore wind power is that — unlike oil and gas — the cost of the energy generated is predictable over decades.

The newspaper reported he said offshore wind should be considered vital for an energy-importing nation like the US.

“It’s a national security issue,” Leyland was quoted as saying. “You need to try and find domestically-generated fuel sources . . . This is not a speculative venture in my opinion. This is an essential thing we have to do.”

Although bigger wind farms are now being constructed, E.ON Climate and Renewables’ Roscoe Wind Farm, near Sweetwater, Texas, has a total capacity of 781.5 MW and 627 turbines, making it one of the world’s largest.

Currently, no offshore wind farms are located in US waters but Cape Wind has been cleared by regulatory authorities to build 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts.

Recently released EWEA figures showed that there are now turbines totalling 3,294 MW of capacity in European waters.