U.S. Offshore wind farms run into headwinds

Staff Columnist

“Over a dozen offshore projects are in the works, but high costs, logistical issues remain.” (by Erin Ailworth, The Wall Street Journal, Monday, July 10, 2017)

We have published several columns on wind turbines or windmills over the past five years or so.  These were mostly less than complimentary to the new energy source.  I was particularly critical about the installation pictured here – in a marsh land off Massachusetts Bay in the coastal Town of Scituate (certainly not offshore).  Things, they are a changing, although the industry isn’t out of the woods yet.  More recent news:

“The first offshore wind installation in the U.S., a $300 million, 30-megawatt project off Rhode Island, began turning six months ago.  But nearly two decades after wind farms emerged in Europe’s North Sea, they remain a relative rarity here.  One reason:  No companies here build turbine towers big enough for use in deep water.  Companies including Denmark’s Dong Energy AS, Norway’s Statoil ASA and Spain’s Iberdrola SA are pursuing more than a dozen projects which would dwarf the R.I. project.

But the Block Island wind farm in the U.S. generates power for  24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, while offshore wind projects in Europe can come in well under 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Developers are optimistic that, as occurred in Europe, prices will go down as more projects begin and a supplier network takes shape in the U.S.

If all of the 17 of the proposed farms are built, the wave of U.S. offshore wind projects , primarily concentrated in the Northeast, would add 9.1 gigawatts of generating capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.  That is enough to power three million homes.”

“Offshore wind farms require hundreds of millions to billions of dollars to construct, depending on their scale, and analysts say not all of the proposed U.S. farms will be built.  But state-level policies that promote renewable energy are providing momentum.  Earlier this year, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called for 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind to be developed by 2030.  Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed legislation last year to have the state add 1.6 gigawatts of wind power offshore by June 2027.

Most of the 17 proposed projects are in federally designated wind energy areas.  Such zones were created to help cut through some of the red tape and community opposition that for more than a decade has blocked Cape Wind, a more than 400-megawatt project proposed for federal waters off Martha’s Vineyard.

“Components like the enormous stands that anchor offshore turbines will have to be brought up from places like the Gulf Coast.  A Norwegian ship carrying the nacelles – the housing that holds the main generating machinery – couldn’t fit under the Newport Pell Bridge that spans Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, so it skipped coming into port and went straight to the construction site offshore.

It can also still take considerable time to get the necessary permits and approvals for offshore wind farms from state and federal regulators.”

The Journal article lists planning areas for offshore wind farms off Hawaii, California, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.  This according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.


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1 Response for “U.S. Offshore wind farms run into headwinds”

  1. John Dupps says:

    Many wind energy projects are proposed in bird migration routes and will be responsible for killing millions of migrating birds in addition to the unreported/unknown tens of thousands killed by existing wind energy farms.
    The environmental costs of wind and solar energy are often overlooked by regulatory bodies in their haste to be “green”.

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