Texas project aims to be first commercial farm in nation

E&E • Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Gulf Offshore Wind Project, just off the Texas coast, may be poised to become the first commercial-scale wind farm in the United States.

With long delays at the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts, a team that includes university professors and a former British oil executive says the offshore farm in the Gulf of Mexico could be the wind industry’s most viable option for a first project.

About 41,000 acres in the Gulf is leased for the project, which would provide power for 1.8 million homes.

“It makes the most sense for Texas to have the first offshore wind farm. It’s already the leader in onshore wind power,” said Heather Otten, chief development officer of Baryonyx Corp., the lead company in the project. “But there’s a lot more work that goes into an offshore project than an onshore project, I can tell you that.”

This particular project — known as GOWind — started four years ago when Baryonyx Chief Executive Ian Hatton bought leases in the Gulf of Mexico from the Texas General Land Office.

Hatton, whose background comes from working for Phillips Petroleum and an offshore wind company, found the Gulf alluring, with its shallow waters and the presence of an offshore oil industry.

The project has received $4 million of financial backing from the Energy Department for preliminary design and engineering work. Federal officials will announce which offshore wind projects around the country will get full funding in May.

For now, GOWind is looking into its potential impacts on maritime ecology, from migratory birds to the region’s fishing industry.

“We’re getting very close to making it work,” Otten said (James Osborne, Dallas Morning News, Nov. 18). —