With roughly 80% of the U.S. electricity demand originating from coastal states, offshore wind is a crucial renewable resource to be incorporated in the country's clean energy mix. Since 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy has supported a portfolio of advanced wind energy technology demonstration projects that represent some of the nation's most innovative offshore wind projects in state and federal waters. These demonstrations are among the first of their kind making their way through permitting, approval, and grid interconnection processes in the United States. The demonstrations will help address key challenges associated with installing full-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes.
In May 2016, DOE identified three projects from its offshore wind portfolio—the Atlantic City Windfarm developed by Fishermen's Energy, Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation's Icebreaker project, and the University of Maine's New England Aqua Ventus I project—that have demonstrated significant progress toward being successfully completed and producing power. These three projects have each received approximately $10.7 million in funding from DOE, and are each eligible for up to $40 million in additional funding in future project performance periods after reaching specific milestones, subject to Congressional appropriations and progress reviews.
Fishermen’s Energy Atlantic City Windfarm
Fishermen's Energy of New Jersey plans to install six 4-megawatt Siemens turbines in state waters approximately three miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Fishermen's Energy Atlantic City Windfarm will demonstrate the use of a twisted jacket foundation that is easier to manufacture and install than traditional foundations, helping drive down the cost of energy produced by the offshore wind system.
In order to ensure the safety of the workers who will service the offshore turbines, Fishermen's has teamed up with foundation developer Keystone Engineering to demonstrate a new access ladder that is rotated 90 degrees, bringing the maintenance vessel closer to the turbine foundation while allowing the worker to side step onto the ladder.
During operation, the Fishermen's project will act as an at-sea laboratory to further our knowledge about offshore wind, investigate the interactions between turbines, test new control systems, and provide information about potential environmental impacts of offshore wind while reducing the levelized cost of energy from offshore wind.
LAKE ERIE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION'S (LEEDCO'S) PROJECT ICEBREAKER
LEEDCo plans to install six 3.45-megawatt direct-drive turbines on Mono Bucket foundations eight miles off the coast of Cleveland in Lake Erie.
The Mono Bucket foundation was selected through significant engineering analysis, and is expected to reduce installation time, costs, and environmental impacts compared to traditional foundations that require pile driving. The Mono Bucket not only is a solution for the Great Lakes, but also has broader national applicability for offshore wind installations off the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
LEEDCo has assembled a credible, experienced team to support project development, and will also address technical challenges unique to fresh water offshore wind deployments such as icing.
UNIVERSITY OF MAINE'S NEW ENGLAND AQUA VENTUS I
The University of Maine plans to install a pilot floating offshore wind farm with two 6-megawatt direct-drive turbines on concrete semi-submersible foundations at a test site off of Monhegan Island, Maine.
Because of its location in deep waters off the coast of Maine, where traditional foundations are not feasible, the University of Maine is developing an innovative floating platform.
The University of Maine has demonstrated a 1:8-scale prototype of their floating VolturnUS foundation, and they have applied the knowledge gained in designing, constructing and deploying the prototype to the engineering efforts of the full-scale design. The University and its partners have made significant progress on the engineering design of the full-scale foundation by focusing on commercial-scale manufacturing of the foundation and reducing costs. These considerations have led to significant reductions in the internal steel requirements and vastly improved manufacturability of the foundation.
In the first phase of the offshore wind advanced technology demonstration, Baryonyx Corporation completed longitudinal wind resource assessments and avian surveys off the coast of Texas, and designed an advanced jacket foundation using lessons learned from the oil and gas sector. Statoil North America performed numerous environmental surveys in the Gulf of Maine, as well as design studies that advanced the state-of-the-art in specialized floating spar buoy substructures.
In the second phase of the offshore wind advanced technology demonstration, Dominion Virginia Power optimized a twisted jacket foundation design for resilience to hurricanes, which will be important for future U.S. deployments on the Atlantic and Gulf coast. Additionally, the diligent efforts of Dominion and the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) led to the first approval of a wind energy research lease in federal waters. By pioneering the leasing process in federal waters, the project will help to inform future commercial-scale leasing processes. Dominion's development activities have also engaged industry stakeholders, leading to enhanced understanding of the unique aspects of offshore wind energy, streamlining of the permitting process, and identification of several areas and methodologies for potential cost reduction.
Also in the second phase of the demonstration program, Principle Power advanced the state of knowledge regarding floating offshore wind platforms, decreasing the weight and cost of the platform while increasing the platform turbine capacity to 8 MW. These advancements will support the next generation of floating offshore wind turbines. Principle Power also worked with BOEM to make significant progress under the BOEM permitting process; this process included extensive stakeholder outreach and consultation with local Native Americans, resulting in the enhanced understanding of the unique aspects of floating offshore wind technologies.
Broadly, the Energy Department's efforts to advance innovative offshore wind technologies support the Obama Administration's comprehensive National Offshore Wind Strategy to develop a sustainable, robust U.S. offshore wind industry. As part of that strategy, the Energy Department continues to work with partners across the government, including the Department of the Interior, to conduct resource assessments, streamline siting and permitting, and overcome technical and market challenges to installation, operations, and grid connection.