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The Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) supports market acceleration projects aimed at understanding and mitigating market barriers to the development of the U.S. offshore wind market. These projects address both siting and supply chain-related issues, and are broken down into two major categories:
- Offshore Wind Energy Resources and the Environment
- Planning, Constructing, and Integrating Offshore Wind Energy
Establishing environmental parameters is an important piece of the offshore wind research agenda. This includes characterizing offshore wind resources, understanding the environmental impacts of offshore wind construction on wildlife and the marine environment, and mitigating the impact of offshore wind turbines on radar and other communication and navigation equipment. The links below will take you to resources and projects funded by the Wind Energy Technologies Office covering these topics.
- AWS Truepower has developed a Web-based, national inventory called the U.S. Met-Ocean Data Center for Offshore Renewable Energy (USMODCORE). Over the course of the project, AWS Truepower established data needs for wind energy resources and design conditions, identified existing sources of relevant data, and carried out a gaps analysis to establish long-term requirements for new data to be gathered and disseminated through national public-private collaboration initiatives.
- Cornell University and Indiana University integrated wind data from remote sensing, aerial and satellite measurements, and meteorological towers to produce a high resolution wind characterization for Lake Erie. This project also analyzed instruments and developing best practices for each measurement type.
- Savannah River National Laboratory examined what conditions produce breaking waves and how breaking waves can impact offshore wind turbine structures such as monopile foundations in the southeastern region of the United States. The project also developed a dynamically coupled modeling tool to simulate two hurricanes between North Carolina and Florida.
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory procured two WindSentinel wind resource assessment buoys from AXYS Technologies, Inc. that use lidar to accurately measure wind speed, wind direction, and turbulence offshore up to blade-tip heights of 200 meters (m). One was deployed off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the other off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The data collected from the buoys are publically available. The buoys provide long-term offshore wind profile data that will support research needed to accelerate the utilization of offshore wind energy in the United States, and when they are not being used by DOE, they can be loaned to other interested parties.
- As part of an international collaboration with the International Energy Agency, the Energy Department and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed Tethys, a database that catalogs results of environmental monitoring and research efforts on ocean energy development worldwide, including offshore wind and land-based wind. The database will help industry regulators and energy project developers deploy sustainable ocean energy projects in an environmentally responsible manner.
- The Biodiversity Research Institute studied the wildlife (bird, sea turtle, and marine mammal) distributions, densities, and movements on the mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf between 2012 and 2014. Using a combination of boat and high resolution digital video aerial surveys, the Mid-Atlantic Baseline Studies provide regulators, developers, and other stakeholders for offshore wind energy with information that can be used to identify important wildlife areas, data gaps, and approaches for collecting and incorporating natural resource data into decision-making.
- Building on a pilot study of acoustic bat and marine radar surveys funded by the Department of the Interior, the Energy Department has provided Stantec with additional funding to expand their study of the migratory patterns of bats to include proposed locations of offshore wind farms. These data will inform future siting, permitting, mitigation, and operational decisions for offshore wind development.
- Oregon State University completed initial development of a fully integrated sensor array monitoring system with on-board custom designed data post-processing and statistical-based software for monitoring avian and bat collisions with offshore wind turbines. The synchronized array of sensors includes accelerometers, visual and infrared spectrum cameras, and acoustic monitors. Remote access to the recorded images and sensor data will make it possible to quantify interactions, including collisions, and identify organisms involved to the lowest taxonomic grouping possible.
A team led by researchers from the University of Texas conducted a baseline evaluation of electromagnetic and acoustical challenges to sea surface, subsurface, and airborne electronic systems presented by offshore wind farms.
WETO is also working to enable the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry by funding projects aimed at the development of planning, construction, and integration practices, which will ensure offshore wind energy is deployed in a cost-effective manner with minimal risk to the electrical grid. By developing a better understanding of offshore wind supply chains, available U.S. ports and vessels, and requirements for connecting offshore wind energy to existing grid infrastructure, DOE can assist industry in the responsible planning and deployment of this abundant energy source.
- ABB assessed the likely impacts of offshore wind development in the various regions of the United States from the electric utility perspective. This work included developing energy production profiles, performing an initial integration analysis, and evaluating the applicability of traditional integration study methods and potential energy collection and delivery technologies. ABB's final report suggest that the United States has sufficient offshore wind energy resources to enable the installation of at least 54 GW of offshore wind capacity—enough to power nearly 17 million homes—and that the appropriate transmission technologies already exist to connect this offshore wind energy to the grid.
- The University of Delaware examined potential effects of wind penetration on the Mid-Atlantic electric grid and facilitated grid operations planning by identifying necessary system upgrades and grid management strategies to ensure reliable and efficient operation of the electric system. The final report analyzes wind production profiles and variability and assesses the effectiveness or north-south transmission, and analyzes how these factors affect the need for grid upgrades and congestion management in PJM.
- Case Western University evaluated potential impacts of offshore wind on the electric grid in the Great Lakes region and determined requirements for interconnection, control systems, and the application of additional support for different transmission systems. The research identifies operating changes and equipment upgrades needed to facilitate and integrate offshore wind.
- Duke Energy Business Services examined the potential system impacts of offshore wind development on the Duke Energy Carolinas system, determined the costs of upgrading the transmission system to support large-scale offshore projects, and assessed strategies for system integration and management. The first phase of the study identified high-voltage transmission infrastructure needs.
- Douglas-Westwood investigated the anticipated demand for various vessel types associated with offshore wind development under multiple growth scenarios, projecting installed capacity and vessel requirements out to 2030. The final report assesses vessel needs under each scenario and the United States' ability to meet those needs.
- GL Garrad Hassan America carried out a review of the current capability of U.S. ports to support offshore wind project development and assessed the challenges and opportunities related to upgrading this capability to meet various offshore wind industry growth scenarios in the United States. The final port assessment report includes case studies of six ports from different geographic regions and varied levels of interest and preparedness toward offshore wind, which yielded a set of best practices for U.S. ports looking to support the offshore wind market.
- The National Renewable Energy Laboratory authored the 2017 Offshore Wind Technologies Market Update, which assesses global offshore wind trends and provides details on U.S. offshore wind projects. Produced as a full report every other year and a PowerPoint update in alternate years, this publication summarizes domestic and global market developments, technology trends, and economic data to help U.S. offshore wind industry stakeholders, including policymakers, regulators, developers, financiers, and supply chain participants, to identify barriers and opportunities.
- The Global Wind Network (GLWN) assessed the key factors that determine wind energy component manufacturing costs and pricing on a global basis in order to provide a better understanding of the factors that will help enhance the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, and reduce installed system costs. Building on their existing database of wind energy supplier capabilities, GLWN interviewed major companies involved in the offshore global production of wind energy and collaborated with established wind industry partners, associates, and National Institutes of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnerships in the coastal states. Key findings from the report indicate that globally, the United States has the most efficient manufacturing process for towers, blades, and generators, and that U.S. manufacturers have the capability to supply key components of next-generation 3-megawatt wind turbines.
- Navigant surveyed uncertainties around the United States' offshore wind manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. The final report projects potential component-level supply chain needs under three demand scenarios, and identifies key supply chain challenges and opportunities facing both the future U.S. offshore wind market and current suppliers of the nation's land-based wind market.
- The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), in conjunction with Douglas-Westwood and the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative, analyzed offshore wind supply chain development opportunities in 24 coastal states. The state profiles produced by the CESA-led team provide detailed information on policies, tax credits, and other incentives for offshore wind businesses (as of 2012).
- GL Garrad Hassan America has identified and quantified key areas of offshore wind project installation and operations where opportunities exist to reduce the cost of energy produced by offshore wind plants.
- DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted an assessment of optimized installation, operation, and maintenance strategies and technologies for offshore wind projects in U.S. waters to evaluate their relative costs and benefits. The report combines NREL's offshore wind cost modeling capabilities and those of the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, along with the operating experience of an expert industry panel.