The first North American Offshore Wind Conference & Exhibition was held this week in Atlantic City, N.J. Hosted by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), in collaboration with the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), the three-day conference and expo brought more than 1,500 wind industry leaders, government officials, and business executives to Atlantic City.
The conference highlighted what’s happening in the emerging offshore wind energy industry: development opportunities throughout the coastal and lake regions of North America, potential rewards of becoming a player in the offshore space, financing options and challenges, and even project design and siting options. The expo show floor featured more than 120 exhibiting companies from the offshore wind market.
“Offshore wind energy is the new frontier for our industry,” says Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. “While offshore wind is steadily gaining momentum in the U.S., the reality is that other countries are expanding their lead in this sector. It is essential to send this exciting market a clear signal, through long-term and stable policy, that the U.S. is committed to making offshore wind a reality. Only through such a signal can the U.S. attract the manufacturing facilities and associated jobs needed to support the industry.”
The event began with an opening session featuring Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s keynote speech. “Our nation’s energy policy is at the forefront of the Department’s agenda,” he said. “Now, more than ever, we must embrace the energy potential our lands and oceans hold. With the help of AWEA’s initiatives and continued support, we can make the transition to a clean-energy economy a reality.”
Salazar made a huge step in this transition when after his speech he signed a lease with Cape Wind authorizing construction of the first U.S. offshore wind farm in Massachusetts. Cape Wind President Jim Gordon is glad to see offshore construction launch for the nation. “Our feeling is that America needs all the renewable energy we can get,” he says. “My best wishes go out to all the others now looking up and down the East coast to build offshore wind farms.”
Conferences featured discussions of offshore wind development issues such as resource assessment, supply chain issues, government involvement, metocean measurement, project planning, and transmission considerations. Attendees were also offered tours of the existing Jersey-Atlantic wind farm, the first coastal wind farm in the U.S.
Atlantic City was selected as the venue for the conference in light of New Jersey’s offshore wind potential and the strong policy signals the state has already given the industry. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act into law on July 19, 2010. The Act will provide $100 million in tax credits for offshore wind developments in the Atlantic Ocean that connect to the New Jersey grid.
As Sec. Salazar noted in his speech, with 1.75 billion acres of oceans U.S. offshore wind resources are vast. Offshore wind farms therefore offer something that is extremely valuable for the economy, environment, and energy security: a source of clean, domestic, inexhaustible energy to meet fast-growing electricity demand. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 54 GW of offshore wind will be included in the 300 GW required to meet 20% of the U.S. electricity needs in 2030.
Companies exhibiting at the show shared their ideas and products developed to be part of that energy production.
For one, Gamesa will launch their G11X, a 5-MW offshore turbine in 2013, a progression of their G10X onshore turbine. REpower is also planning to lunch their MM100, 1.8-MW offshore turbine exclusively for the North American market. The company also shows off their 6M offshore turbine of 6.15-MW.
The show signifies that offshore development is indeed the next step toward clean energy in North America, and those in all aspects of the market are making plans to utilize the wind resources available. It is likely that by next year’s conference, offshore farms will be generating energy and the industry will be learning fast and looking to expand even further.
Filed Under: Policy