U.S. Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu today announced the release of three solicitations, worth up to $50.5 million over five years, to develop breakthrough offshore wind energy technology and to reduce specific market barriers to its deployment.
The projects are in support of an interagency plan called, "The joint National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States," which was rolled out in Washington, D.C., today by Secretary Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
The solicitations announced by Secretary Chu are:
- Technology Development (up to $25 million over five 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 three 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 three 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.Unveiling a coordinated strategic plan to accelerate the development of offshore wind energy,
Secretary Salazar, for his part, identified four Wind Energy Areas offshore the mid-Atlantic as part of Interior's "Smart from the Start" approach announced in November 2010 that is hoped to accelerate offshore wind development.
The areas are located on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore Delaware (122 square nautical miles), Maryland (207 sq. nm), New Jersey (417 sq. nm), and Virginia (165 sq.nm), They 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 the South Atlantic region, namely North Carolina, this spring.
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.
February 7, 2011