The Obama Administration on Wednesday gave a huge boost to the development of offshore wind energy projects in the U.S., of which there are exactly none, currently. But that’s about to change quite soon, with the Energy Department announcing awards for seven offshore wind farms around the country, each project receiving $4 million for a collective $28 million.
The money is meant for seven different “technology demonstration partnerships” that combine industry funding supplemented by the Energy Department and function within their local jurisdictions to create new offshore wind farms due to be operational, at least in part, by 2017 at the latest. The projects are each eligible to receive $47 million total over the next four years, if they can demonstrate success with their developments.
Most of the projects are located around the coasts, but one, the “Icebreaker,” is set to take spin in Lake Erie.
The goal of the overall effort is for the U.S. government to spur the development of not just a whole new industry and source of renewable power, but to “achieve large cost reductions over existing offshore wind technologies,” as the Energy Department’s Research and Development website explained in a release.
As such, the awards are just part of over $200 million the Energy Department has awarded toward developing offshore wind energy in the U.S. through other research projects over the past two years. The Energy Department on Wednesday also released the following interactive map (made with MapBox). The seven new projects are denoted by the large orange wheel or turbine icons:
The Energy Department considers the funds worthy of investment given a study that found a domestic offshore wind industry could generate 200,000 jobs and $70 billion in annual investments by the year 2030, not to mention 4,000 gigawatts of clean power.
But the $4 million funding awards to the first seven practical projects on Wednesday is the most sweeping and serious commitment the Energy Department has made yet to getting offshore wind up and running in the U.S. Here’s an abbreviated list of the award recipients, printed by the Energy Department website.
Baryonyx Corporation, based in Austin, Texas: Three, six-megawatt direct-drive wind turbines in state waters near Port Isabel, Texas.
Fishermen’s Atlantic City Windfarm: “Up to” six direct-drive turbines in state waters three miles off Atlantic City, New Jersey…Expected commercial operation by 2015.
Principle Power in Seattle, Washington: Five semi-submersible floating foundations with six-megawatt wind turbines. Planned installation in deep water 10 to 15 miles off Coos Bay, Oregon.
Statoil North America of Stamford, Connecticut: Four three-megawatt wind turbines on floating spar buoy structures in the Gulf of Maine off Boothbay Harbor at 460-feet deep, assembled in harbor.
The University of Maine in Orono, Maine: Two, six-megawatt direct-drive turbines on concrete semi-submersible foundations near Monhegan Island, attempting to cut costs of steel foundations.
Dominion Virginia Power of Richmond: Two, six-megawatt direct-drive turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach on “twisted jacket” foundations (the DOE calls them “innovative”), which also use less steel than comparable foundations.