DOE awards millions for demonstration projects

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Department of Energy today announced recipients of up to $168 million over the next six years for demonstration projects aimed at advancing the offshore wind industry.

DOE awarded funding to seven projects in six states. The projects will each receive $4 million to complete their planning and evaluation phases, and up to three will be selected to receive additional funding, subject to future congressional appropriation, with the goal of having advanced turbines operating by 2017.

The awards are part of a program DOE launched earlier this year to shift its emphasis from onshore wind, which has experienced dramatic installation growth and cost reduction in recent years, to the fledgling offshore wind industry (Greenwire, March 2). DOE estimates the total offshore wind resource at about 4 million megawatts.

“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 economically viable,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “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.”

According to DOE, awards went to:

Baryonyx Corp., an Austin, Texas-based company planning to install three 6 MW turbines offshore Port Isabel, Texas, to demonstrate hurricane-resistant offshore wind farm designs and an advanced jacket foundation.

Fishermen’s Energy for its Atlantic City, N.J., wind farm, which would include up to six turbines in state waters.

Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., a Cleveland-based public-private partnership that is planning to install nine 3 MW turbines designed to reduce ice buildup.

Principle Power, a Seattle-based company planning to install five floating 6 MW turbines in deep water offshore Coos Bay, Ore.

Statoil North America, based in Stamford, Conn., which plans to deploy four 3 MW floating turbines in the Gulf of Maine off Boothbay Harbor.

The University of Maine, which is planning a pilot floating wind farm with two 6 MW turbines near Monhegan Island.

Dominion Virginia Power, which is planning to deploy two 6 MW turbines offshore Virginia Beach to demonstrate an innovative “twisted jacket” foundation that uses less steel but achieves the same performance as traditional foundations.

Last year, DOE also issued several awards to projects to research and develop new technology and to remove market barriers that have limited development in the offshore wind industry.

No offshore wind farms have yet been installed in the United States, although several projects are in development.

“Today’s announcement is a shot in the arm for the offshore wind industry, since the projects that will now be developed are required to get steel in the water within the next few years,” said Jim Lanard, head of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, an industry group. “Offshore wind in the United States is poised to become a multibillion-dollar clean energy industry, which will create thousands of high-skilled jobs and new home-grown manufacturing and economic development opportunities.”

Advocates also used yesterday’s announcement to call for a renewal of the investment tax credit for offshore wind, which would cover 30 percent of the cost of new projects. The credit is set to expire at the end of this year, but industry supporters are hopeful they can win an extension as part of a year-end “fiscal cliff” deal.

“It’s time that Congress extends the ITC to jump-start an offshore wind industry in the U.S. so that we can finally begin to reap all of the environmental and economic benefits of this domestic clean energy resource,” said Nancy Sopko of the environmental group Oceana.