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US Departments of Energy and Interior unveil national offshore wind strategy and major offshore wind initiatives

Unveiling a coordinated strategic plan to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced steps forward in support of offshore wind energy in the United States, including new funding opportunities for up to $50.5 million for projects that support offshore wind energy deployment and several high priority Wind Energy Areas in the mid-Atlantic.

The joint National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States is the first interagency plan on offshore wind energy. The plan focuses on overcoming three key challenges:

  • the relatively high cost of offshore wind energy;
  • technical challenges surrounding installation, operations, and grid interconnection; and
  • the lack of site data and experience with project permitting processes.

In support of this Strategic Work Plan, Secretary Chu announced today the release of three solicitations, representing up to $50.5 million over 5 years, to develop breakthrough offshore wind energy technology and to reduce specific market barriers to its deployment:

  • Technology Development (up to $25 million over 5 years): DOE will support the development of innovative wind turbine design tools and hardware to provide the foundation for a cost-competitive and world-class offshore wind industry in the United States. Specific activities will include the development of open-source computational tools, system-optimized offshore wind plant concept studies, and coupled turbine rotor and control systems to optimize next-generation offshore wind systems.

  • Removing Market Barriers (up to $18 million over 3 years): DOE will support baseline studies and targeted environmental research to characterize key industry sectors and factors limiting the deployment of offshore wind. Specific activities will include offshore wind market and economic analysis; environmental risk reduction; manufacturing and supply chain development; transmission planning and interconnection strategies; optimized infrastructure and operations; and wind resource characterization.

  • Next-Generation Drivetrain (up to $7.5 million over 3 years): DOE will fund the development and refinement of next-generation designs for wind turbine drivetrains, a core technology required for cost-effective offshore wind power.

Today Salazar also identified four Wind Energy Areas offshore the mid-Atlantic as part of Interior’s “Smart from the Start” approach announced in November 2010 that uses appropriate designated areas, coordinated environmental studies, large-scale planning and expedited approval processes to speed offshore wind energy development.

The areas, on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore Delaware (122 square nautical miles), Maryland (207), New Jersey (417), and Virginia (165), will receive early environmental reviews that will help to lessen the time required for review, leasing and approval of offshore wind turbine facilities.

In March, Interior also expects to identify Wind Energy Areas off of North Atlantic states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and launch additional NEPA environmental reviews for those areas. A similar process will occur for South Atlantic region, namely North Carolina, this spring.

Based on stakeholder and public participation, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) will prepare regional environmental assessments for Wind Energy Areas to evaluate the effects of leasing and site assessment activities on leased areas. If no significant impacts are identified, BOEMRE could offer leases in these Mid-Atlantic areas as early as the end of 2011 or early 2012.

Comprehensive site-specific NEPA review will still need to be conducted for the construction of any individual wind power facility, and BOEMRE will work directly with project managers to ensure that those reviews take place on aggressive schedules.

Under the National Offshore Wind Strategy, the Department of Energy is pursuing a scenario that includes deployment of deploying 10 gigawatts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030. Those scenarios include development in both federal and state offshore areas, including along Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts as well as in Great Lakes and Hawaiian waters.




I support research looking to make off-shore wind cost effective. It is seeking to make large scale deployments now that is insane, with construction costs around 3 times on-shore.
As for maintenance, here is one experts view, in reply to a post where I had said that the most time off-shore wind turbines could be expected to last before really major maintenance is around 9 years:
'There is very good data on the maintenance requirements and longevity of ONshore wind projects. We spent millions developing SCADA systems to collect it. The last 400 MW we developed were within 1km of the windward Cape Finesterre coast of Galicia, very much a marine environment. And, if anything, you are too optimistic.

The economics of wind energy don't permit much margin for outages. We had computers in every tower that would send signals to the closest maintenance trucks that contained the specific tools needed for the repair. We averaged "back online" in 15 minutes. A neighboring project run by a large utility, with the same wind regime and turbines, had over 30% less KWh per year; their idea of maintenance was a guy with a cellphone calling the company 500 km away.
They need constant care and supervision; they suffer lightning strikes and catch fire, they can break when subjected to down the line column turbulence,, they need to be turned off in the highest winds [top 2% of windspeeds produced 20% of all damage]. They are aircraft, pure and simple. You need very large cranes to change out generators, transmissions and blades --and oddly enough, this often has to be accomplished in high winds!! What kind of equipment can accomplish that [economically] at sea?

They are not set-and-forget for 80,000 hour devices. I cannot even imagine how -- much less for how much -- -they could be efficiently maintained. And how much you would have to pay skilled operators to climb out on blades in a seaway to effect repairs.

I believe wind energy can contribute usefully to the energy mix in the right locations. They tend to produce energy during the day when it's hottest, i.e., when A/Cs are turned on, and in the right wind regime can be very productive.

But building 500 kv offshore power lines, installing hundreds of machines and maintaining them with the constant attention and fastidiousness they require is well beyond the reach of current technology at a rational price. My two cents. '


Davemart makes a lot of important points.


Davemart, any thoughts on vertical http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/32266/?p1=MstRcnt
wind turbine off shore viability?

Account Deleted

I agree that large scale deployment of off-shore wind turbines currently is much too expensive compared to on-shore wind.

1 GW on-shore wind cost about 1.3B USD
1 GW off-shore wind cost about 3.9B USD

It is true that off-shore the wind blows stronger and more consistently than on-shore but the gain in production of electricity is not much with the latest wind turbines, such as, Vestas new V112_3MW turbine. The data below show that such a turbine only produce about 20% more electricity off-shore and that is far from enough to compensate for the much higher prices off-shore. Off-shore and on-shore wind turbines actually cost about the same or about 1.1B USD per GW. However, on-shore you pay 0.2B USD for foundation, installation and grid connection per GW whereas that will cost about 2.8B USD per GW off-shore. That is just economically insane.

Annual Energy Production V112_3MW onshore
6.0 m/s 7,629 MWh capacity factor 0.29
6.5 m/s 8,959 MWh capacity factor 0.34
7.0 m/s 10,239 MWh capacity factor 0.39
7.5 m/s 11,448 MWh capacity factor 0.44
8.0 m/s 12,574 MWh capacity factor 0.48
8.5 m/s 13,608 MWh capacity factor 0.52
9.0 m/s 14,548 MWh capacity factor 0.55

Annual Energy Production V112 3MW off-shore
8,5 m/s 13.402 MWh capacity factor 0.51
9,0 m/s 14.311 MWh capacity factor 0.54
9,5 m/s 15.119 MWh capacity factor 0.58
10,0 m/s 15.826 MWh capacity factor 0.58
Based on Weibull k parameter 2.0
and air density 1.225 kg/m3

Account Deleted

The data mentioned above assumes
No transmission losses;
Park efficiency - 100%;
Availability - 100%;
Wind shape factor (C-factor) = 2;
Weibull k parameter 2.0
Air density = 1.225 kg/m3

Source: http://www.vestas.com/en/media/brochures.aspx


There are many unexploited On-Shore areas with excellent wind in North America. Farmlands under large slow turning wind turbines are more productive and produces are of better quality since less affected by mildew, insects, bats and birds. Farmers could use the extra revenues.


I am not an engineer but the idea of floating platforms seems to me to be a step in the right direction as it might reduce foundation costs and would enable if major repairs were needed the turbine to be towed to shore for repairs.
However that does not address the basic problem of high maintenance costs and difficulty of access.
Oil platforms turn out hundreds of times more energy per platform so can use much more expensive solutions.
My concerns for the vertical idea would centre on the bearings needed.
More importantly though in the UK off-shore turbines are being deployed en masse without adequate testing, a recipe for disaster.

The wind does indeed tend to be more powerful off shore. However in practise output from offshore fields to date has been no greater than on-shore.
The reason for that is that most damage is caused in the top 2% of wind speeds, and so a combination of more repairs needed and the necessity to furl turbines to prevent damage in high winds reduces the theoretical advantage to nil in practise to date.
My information is from the UK fields.


Excellent observations. Offshore wind also suffers from long term maintenance unknowns. Like actual costs.

Will these behemoths be abandoned once new technologies obviate them? Will we have to live with rusted out carcasses of dead turbines dotting our shorelines??


Decommissioning and removal is not currently costed into off-shore wind turbine platforms, at least in the UK.


Frankly at some point energy engineers ought look very hard at giant electromechanical solutions. Technology in general is turning to solid states - less moving parts. Perhaps we should be seriously considering new energy sources like MIT's Lattice Assisted Nuclear Reactions, producing excess heat in labs all over the world.

Big, centralized power generators requiring thousands of miles of high voltage transmission wire - is a 19th century vision. A sustainable planet in a universe full of energy - is not difficult to imagine.


I think that if you're going to the trouble of collecting energy off-shore it should be ocean energy: current/tidal/wave/OTEC.

Henry Gibson

Artemis is building hydraulic wind turbine transmissions after making a very high performance hydraulic hybrid automobile. ..HG..


Thanks HG.

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