October 17th, 2020 by Guest Contributor
While other news is capturing plenty of the public’s attention these days, there are some headline-worthy happenings in the world of offshore wind, including the first turbines in US federal waters. If you could use a splash of good news (and non-other-stuff news) at a time like this, here are a few updates.
New turbines off our coasts
New turbines in these parts are definitely front-page-news-worthy, given how early-stage we are in actually deploying offshore wind turbines in the US. The pilot project 27 miles off Virginia’s coast is only two turbines, but it adds 40% to our nation’s turbine count (up from five, off Rhode Island), and 40% to our installed offshore wind capacity (up from 30 megawatts to 42). They are also the first turbines installed in federal waters (Rhode Island’s are within the state’s own waters). And those new 12 megawatts (MW) are definitely harbingers, given that Virginia is aiming to up the state’s offshore wind capacity to 2,600 MW by 2026.
States driving offshore wind
Policies in the leading states have been a major driver of offshore wind in the US, and noteworthy stuff keeps coming. New Jersey, which last year selected a 1,100 MW offshore wind project as its first foray into the space, announced that it’s requesting bids for its next round of offshore wind projects, potentially another 2,400 MW. Massachusetts is considering adding another 2,000 megawatts or more to its existing 3,200 MW state requirement. And Maine recently got a $2.2 million grant from the US Department of Commerce to work on floating offshore wind.
Offshore wind for more than one coast
Offshore wind in this country is about more than the East Coast, and so is the recent offshore wind news. In the Great Lakes, a six-turbine project proposed for the Lake Erie waters off Cleveland moved a step closer to permitting when the state’s Power Siting Board struck what many called a “poison pill” provision on when the turbines could operate. And the West Coast is continuing to pave the way for offshore wind, with new efforts to measure wind speeds in two key locations in California, and more thinking about transmission for taking advantage of its abundant offshore wind energy potential.
New offshore wind investment
Norwegian company Equinor’s US offshore wind activities are getting a boost in the form of BP, which is investing $1.1 billion in Equinor’s proposed US offshore wind farms off Massachusetts and New York. (We’ll have our eyes on BP to make sure they’re serious about this space.)
Offshore wind turbines getting more powerful
Meanwhile, the technology at the center of it all — already mighty impressive — is getting still more impressive: The world’s largest offshore wind project is getting the world’s largest offshore wind turbines. GE’s renewable energy division announced last month that it’s upgrading its already-largest-in-the world 12-megawatt turbine to 13 megawatts (without increasing the size of the blades, which are an impressive 107 meters) — for use in the forthcoming 3,600-megawatt Dogger Bank project off the UK.
If all that weren’t enough, there’s some near-term stuff to keep an eye out for. While other November events are also on my mind, next month will bring the final environmental impact statement (EIS) on what might be the first major US offshore wind project. If all goes well/looks good, the final EIS will be followed by a favorable decision on the project’s required federal permit in mid December.
Featured image: Offshore wind farm, by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica
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