The US Department of Energy (DOE) released the special offshore wind edition of its Wind Program Newsletter October 22, highlighting the seminal role federal funding and support is playing in the development of a potentially huge clean and renewable energy resource, one that could go a long way in spurring economic growth and job creation as well as helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and climate change risks.
Stronger, more abundant and more consistent than onshore winds, US offshore wind energy resource potential in federal and state coastal waters and the Great Lakes has been estimated at more than 4 million megawatts (MW).
Aiming to “speed technical innovations, lower costs, and shorten the time frame for deploying offshore wind energy systems," the DOE allocated $43 million to help fund 41 offshore wind power research and development (R&D) projects around the nation back in September 2011. The fruits of this labor, such as an online repository for DOE-funded offshore wind project results, are beginning to show.
US offshore wind energy participants gather in Providence
In addition to providing the public with the latest information via its new online project database, DOE staff will be discussing results of agency-funded offshore wind R&D and demonstration projects at this year's AWEA Offshore WINDPOWER Conference and Exposition in Providence, Rhode Island, which began today, October 22.
Threatened, as well as presented opportunities, by the rise of distributed solar, wind and other renewable energy generation, offshore wind power development poses the big US power utilities opportunities they should be eager to seize upon.
Spurred onward by federal support, a formative US offshore wind industry is finally taking shape. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) completed the historic first two offshore wind lease sales earlier this year. Deepwater Wind New England LLC won the bidding for two offshore wind energy sites off the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coasts in July. More recently, in September, Dominion Virginia Power won a second competitive offshore wind energy lease.
DOE Advanced Technology Demonstration project partners are also making progress in “developing engineering, design, and permitting plans for their proposed offshore wind demonstration projects,” DOE Wind Program Director Jose Zayas notes in a DOE program update. A total of $168 million over six years was allocated in 2012 to fund seven advanced offshore wind power technology demonstration projects. Most are slated to begin commercial operation by 2017.
Main image credit: Penobscot Bay Pilot
Featured image credit: Stanford University