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Industry News
U.S. Department of Energy awards grants to offshore wind projects

The University of Maine's pilot offshore wind farm near Monhegan Island is one of the recipients of substantial grants to grow offshore wind.

Posted on: 12/17/2012
Source: CompositesWorld

Underscoring the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to develop more secure, domestic energy sources and strengthen American competitiveness in the global market, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced on December 12 seven offshore wind awards for projects in Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Virginia. As part of the Energy Department’s broader efforts to launch an offshore wind industry in the United States, these engineering, design and deployment projects will support innovative offshore installations in state and federal waters for commercial operation by 2017.

“The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources, and it is important for us to develop technologies that will allow us to utilize those resources in ways that are conomically viable,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “Today’s announcement of awards to the first offshore wind projects in the U.S. paves the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and more diverse domestic energy portfolio that develops every source of American energy.”

Offshore wind represents a large, untapped energy resource for the United States – offering over 4,000 gigawatts of clean, domestic electricity potential, four times the nation’s current total generation capacity. According to a new report commissioned by the Energy Department, a U.S. offshore wind industry that takes advantage of this abundant domestic resource could support up to 200,000 manufacturing, construction, operation and supply chain jobs across the country and drive over $70 billion in annual investments by 2030. Offshore wind represents an economic and energy opportunity that could mirror the success of landbased wind development. Last year, landbased wind power represented 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions in the U.S., accounting for $14 billion in new investment. Nearly seventy percent of the equipment installed at those U.S. wind farms – including wind turbines and components like towers, blades, gears and generators – is now from domestic manufacturers, doubling from 35 percent in 2005. The Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is set to expire at the end of this year, has been a major driver of this tremendous expansion – helping to employ thousands of Americans and launch new businesses across the country. To continue the growth of U.S. wind energy production and component manufacturing, the Administration has called on Congress to extend successful clean energy tax credits like the PTC.

Each project will receive up to $4 million to complete the engineering, site evaluation, and planning phase of their project. Upon completion of this phase, the DOE Wind Program will select up to three of these projects to advance the follow-on design, fabrication, and deployment phases to achieve commercial operation by 2017. These projects will be eligible for up to $47 million over four years, subject to congressional appropriations. Of the seven project selected for the first phase of this six-year initiative, at least two include composite technolgies and innovative foundation designs:

  • Statoil North America of Stamford, Connecticut plans to deploy four 3-megawatt wind turbines on floating spar buoy structures in the Gulf of Maine off Boothbay Harbor at a water depth of approximately 460 feet. These spar buoys will be assembled in harbor to reduce installation costs and then towed to the installation site to access the Gulf of Maine's extensive deep water offshore wind resources.

  • The University of Maine plans to install a pilot floating offshore wind farm with two 6-megawatt direct-drive turbines on concrete semi-submersible foundations near Monhegan Island. These concrete foundations could result in improvements in commercial-scale production and provide offshore wind projects with a cost-effective alternative to traditional steel foundations.

The Energy Department will work with each project to test these innovations in real offshore environments and conduct comprehensive instrumentation and data analysis that will help accelerate future U.S. offshore wind deployment.  The Department will select up to three of these projects for follow-on phases that focus on siting, construction and installation and aim to achieve commercial operation by 2017. These projects will receive up to $47 million each over four years, subject to Congressional appropriations.

The Energy Department’s efforts to advance innovative offshore wind technologies support the Obama Administration’s comprehensive National Offshore Wind Strategy to develop a
sustainable, world-class offshore wind industry. As part of that strategy, the Energy Department continues to work with partners across the government, including the Department of the Interior, to conduct resource assessments, streamline siting and permitting and overcome technical and market challenges to installation, operations and grid interconnection.


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