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Wind Energy Update

14 Feb 2011 10:02:21

US shares its plan for offshore wind

United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently unveiled a coordinated strategic plan to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy in the US.

The joint plan—"A National Offshore Wind Strategy: creating an offshore wind industry in the United States"—is the first-ever inter-agency plan on offshore wind energy. The plan includes new funding opportunities for up to US$50.5 million for projects that support offshore wind energy deployment and several high priority Wind Energy Areas in the mid-Atlantic that will spur development of this renewable resource.

Salazar said that, through the strategic work plan, the US is synchronising new research and development initiatives with more efficient, forward-thinking planning in order to build the American offshore wind industry.

The strategy identifies the major challenges facing the deployment of offshore wind energy in US waters and lays out a strategy for overcoming those challenges by reducing the cost of offshore wind power and reducing the timeline for deploying offshore wind systems.

The DOE will undertake these activities through its Offshore Wind Innovation and Demonstration (OSWInD) Initiative, a national effort to develop and deploy offshore wind technology. The strategic plan has been informed by substantial input from DOI, other federal partners, offshore wind industry stakeholders, and the public.

Chu announced the release of three solicitations, representing up to US$50.5 million over five years, to develop offshore wind energy technology and to reduce specific market barriers to its deployment:

• Technology development (up to US$25 million over 5 years): US Department of Energy (DOE) will support the development of wind turbine design tools and hardware. Specific activities will include the development of open-source computational tools, system-optimised offshore wind plant concept studies, and coupled turbine rotor and control systems to optimise offshore wind systems.

• Removing market barriers (up to US$18 million over 3 years): DOE will support baseline studies and targeted environmental research to characterise key industry sectors and factors limiting the deployment of offshore wind. Specific activities will include offshore wind market and economic analysis; environmental risk reduction; manufacturing and supply chain development; transmission planning and interconnection strategies; optimised infrastructure and operations; and wind resource characterisation.

• Next-generation drivetrain (up to US$7.5 million over 3 years): DOE will fund the development and refinement of next-generation designs for wind turbine drivetrains, a core technology required for cost-effective offshore wind power.

Salazar also identified four Wind Energy Areas offshore the mid-Atlantic as part of Interior's "Smart from the Start" approach announced in November last year that uses appropriate designated areas, coordinated environmental studies, large-scale planning and expedited approval processes to speed offshore wind energy development.

The areas, on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore Delaware (122 square nautical miles), Maryland (207), New Jersey (417), and Virginia (165), will receive early environmental reviews that will help to lessen the time required for review, leasing and approval of offshore wind turbine facilities.

Under the National Offshore Wind Strategy, DOE is targeting 54GW of deployed offshore wind generating capacity by 2030, at a cost of energy of 7 cents per kilowatt-hour, with an interim target of 10 GW of capacity deployed by 2020, at a cost of energy of 10 cents per kWh. Those scenarios include development in both federal and state offshore areas, including along Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts as well as in Great Lakes and Hawaiian waters.

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