The East and West coasts are not the only places for offshore turbines in the U.S. The Great Lakes, Lake Erie in particular, is the site for North America’s first inland offshore turbines, in part thanks to the research and persistence of Dr. Lorry Wagner, President of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation.
Dr. Wagner has been leading the effort to develop the Lake Erie-based Icebreaker offshore wind farm. This six-turbine pilot project is intended to unlock the vast offshore wind potential of the entire Great Lakes region. Advantages of the area include freshwater, readily available substation and grid capacity, underutilized ports, and an existing manufacturing supply chain.
His team has developed the innovations that solve the unique engineering, regulatory, and financial challenges associated with developing offshore wind in the freezing conditions of freshwater, a few of which include:
- Developed a number of ice mitigating engineering solutions including an innovative monopile foundation designed to withstand Lake Erie’s harshest winters
- Conducted the first geotechnical and geophysical analysis in the Great Lakes for the purposes of developing an offshore wind project
- Designed the first vessel specifically for offshore wind installation in the Great Lakes
- Built and demonstrated overwhelming public support by participating in hundreds of public meetings and conducting a door-to-door grassroots outreach campaign
- Secured power purchase commitments for all the power through a unique grassroots, market-based power sales strategy
- Assembled a world class team of local, domestic, and international partners to invest in, engineer, plan, permit, finance, construct, and monitor the project
- Developed local and domestic manufacturing and professional service providers to participate in the industry and developed a plan to use more than 2/3 domestic manufacturing content
- Submitted the first draft Environmental Assessment for an offshore wind project in the Great Lakes along with permit applications for all federal and state permits
- Secured Letters of Intent from nine banks interested in providing non-recourse project financing
- Negotiated a revenue sharing agreement among Ohio lakefront counties to guide future development – a first in the United States for offshore wind
Dr. Wagner has also been an important thought leader articulating the tremendous opportunity represented by offshore wind in the Great Lakes. For instance, he elevated the profile of Great Lakes wind potential when most of the focus is on the East Coast. Most media has overlooked the fact that the Great Lakes hold 20% of the total U.S. offshore wind potential (700+GW). What’s more, the area is the most coal dependent coastal region in the country.
This is all a part of his mission to build an offshore wind industry in the Great Lakes that creates jobs and heals the environment.
Prior to his work with LEEDCo, Dr. Wagner received his PhD in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University and is a Distinguished Engineering Alumni. He has managed a large number of energy projects in the nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, and wind industries. He previously served as CEO of Azure Energy, Phillips Electric, Motor Guarantee Corp., Remote Sensors Inc., as well as Director of Research for Global Asset Management. WPE
Filed Under: Featured, Innovators & influencers, Offshore wind