Nearly 80 percent of U.S. electricity demand comes from cities and towns in coastal U.S. states. Announcing the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at spurring development of a “world-class” U.S. offshore wind energy industry capable of helping meet that demand in a clean, renewable and sustainable fashion, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on May 7 said it will provide up to $47 million each over the next four years to “three pioneering offshore wind demonstration projects.”
A total of 12 direct-drive wind turbines with an overall 67 megawatts (MW) of rated power generation capacity are to be deployed across the Fishermen’s Energy, Principle Power and Dominion Virginia Power offshore wind demonstration projects off the coasts of Atlantic City, N.J.; Coos Bay, Ore.; and Virginia Beach, Va., respectively, according to a DOE news release.
All three projects entail making use of direct-drive wind turbines and innovative, “homegrown” solutions to offshore wind farm design, engineering and construction that could pave the way to developing cheap, plentiful supplies of renewable power for cities and communities along the U.S. East and West coasts.
Tapping a huge, untapped clean energy resource
Commenting on the May 7 funding announcement, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stated:
“Offshore wind offers a large, untapped energy resource for the United States that can create thousands of manufacturing, construction and supply chain jobs across the country and drive billions of dollars in local economic investment.
“The Energy Department is working with public and private partners to harness this untapped resource in a sustainable and economic manner. The offshore wind projects announced today further this commitment — bringing more clean, renewable energy to our homes and businesses, diversifying our energy portfolio, and reducing costs through innovation.”
Assessing offshore wind energy resources along the U.S. East Coast, researchers at Stanford University concluded there was enough clean, renewable power potential there to meet the electricity needs of at least one-third of the entire U.S., or the entire East Coast from Maine to Florida.
Following through on the “U.S. National Offshore Wind Strategy”
Expanding its efforts to promote and foster creation and development of “world-class” renewable energy and clean technology industries and markets here in the U.S., the Obama administration in February 2011 launched the “National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Energy Industry in the United States.”
In December 2012, DOE announced funding for seven offshore wind demonstration projects that have focused on design, engineering and permitting. DOE funding for the three offshore wind projects announced May 7 aims to realize the goal of deploying offshore wind installations in U.S. waters by 2017.
Three miles off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J., Fishermen’s Energy will install five, 5-MW direct-drive wind turbines. Acting as a field laboratory for researchers to study offshore winds and the interaction among turbines, the offshore wind power installation will make use of “an innovative, U.S.-developed twisted jacket foundation that is simpler and less expensive to manufacture and install than traditional offshore wind foundations,” the DOE explained.
Demonstrating “an innovative solution for deep-water wind turbine projects and lowering costs by simplifying installation and eliminating the need for highly specialized ships,” Principle Power will install five, 6-MW direct-drive wind turbines off the Coos Bay, Ore. coast.
WindFloat semi-submersible floating foundations developed here in the U.S. will support the turbines, which will be set in water more than 1,000 feet deep, DOE highlights in its news release. “More than 60 percent of U.S. offshore wind resources are found in deep waters,” DOE notes, “including the entirety of the West Coast.”
Twenty-six miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, Dominion Virginia Power will deploy two 6-MW direct-drive wind turbines that also makes use of a U.S.-designed twisted-jacket foundation. In addition to demonstrating installation, operation and maintenance methods, a hurricane-resistant design will be tested as part of Dominion’s project.
Image and video credits: 1) U.S. DOE; 2) Navigant Consulting; 3) Principle Power