While the offshore wind industry continues to boom throughout Europe, it remains slow in the United States. The U.S offshore wind industry seems inevitable, but not without a fight. Many state-level organizations as well as the American Wind Energy Association have held multiple conferences with European and American investors, business executives, and policy makers to create a solid plan of action. How close are we?
Last year, the Department of Energy awarded $47 million to three companies to deploy wind turbines off the coast of Virginia, New Jersey and Oregon by 2017. The DOE has also provided funding for other offshore wind initiatives that haven’t exactly caught a break.
For example, until recently, Cape Wind, intended for water off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was nearing a construction phase and to become America’s first offshore wind farm. Unfortunately, the projected wind farm has dealt with legal issues and lost financial backing in January leaving the project in question. Cape Wind was set to install 130 Siemens 3.6-megawatt offshore wind turbines with a capacity of 468 MW.
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation also received DOE funding and it is set to be the first fresh water offshore wind farm. Projects planned for the Great Lakes are said to present fewer challenges for offshore wind because the lakes are generally shallower than ocean plots. The Lake Erie water depth is often 30 to 40 ft. even within a mile of shore. And its fresh water is much less corrosive than salt-water oceans. Construction is projected for 2016 or 2017.
The Maryland offshore wind development is projected to have steel in the water by 2019, and the development team expects to submit its Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition application to the state and to seek further permitting from U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management soon.
Delaware is also looking to put 200 MW of capacity in the water with the Bluewater Wind Park, followed by projects in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Rhode Island.