Deepwater Wind to build first US offshore wind farm

Currently there are no offshore wind projects operating off the United States. The other contender to become the first US offshore wind farm is Cape Wind, a 130-turbine, $1 billion wind farm planned off the coast of neighboring Massachusetts, has been mired in protests by critics. Manufacturers that make offshore wind turbines include Siemens and Vestas.

National Grid struck a 20-year deal with wind developer Deepwater Wind that will help a small proposed wind project off the coast of Rhode Island move forward, Gov. Don Carcieri announced Wednesday.

The first phase of Deepwater’s project, called the Block Island Wind Farm, is expected to start operations in 2013. Its turbines are planned to go up 3 miles off the coast of Block Island in state-owned waters, which developers believe will ease the permitting process. 

The project includes plans to build a transmission line to Block Island, which currently relies mostly on diesel fuel. Any excess electricity generated by the project that the island does not use will be fed to the state’s main grid.

For the first year of the project, the electricity will cost 24,4 cents per kilowatt hour. Deepwater also plans to build a larger utility-scale offshore wind power project in federal waters. The developer must sign a separate power purchase agreement for that farm, rated at 385 megawatts.

Deepwater Wind is the U.S. leader in offshore wind power development — increasing American energy independence with large-scale wind farms in deep ocean waters, where they are virtually invisible from shore.

Wind energy is recognized around the world as an excellent form of clean, renewable power. We can never run out of it. There’s no pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. The fuel is free, and not subject to the price fluctuations of foreign oil. The problem has been that, by and large, most people would rather not have to look at the wind turbines.

Deepwater Wind has a solution. Using offshore platform technology proven in the oil and gas industry, we’re able to build wind farms in deep ocean waters many miles offshore, where they are virtually invisible from land. Without visual impact issues, the wind farms can be very large in scale, with each one providing as much energy as a traditional coal or nuclear power plant — but with zero pollution or dangerous waste.

It’s the beginning of a new era in American energy independence, and the start of a cleantech economic revolution that will bring “green collar” jobs to states across the eastern seaboard.

Why is it that not a single offshore wind farm has been constructed in the United States? The primary challenge has been that little of the infrastructure necessary for the offshore wind industry has existed domestically — from regulations that allow projects to be expediently permitted, to U.S. ports, vessels, and manufacturers that are ready and able to meet demand. Compounding these problems has been coastal community resistance to offshore wind development; understandably, people simply don’t want to look at wind turbines from their beachfront homes.

Fortunately there are workable solutions to all of these challenges. Deepwater Wind has the proven technology, financial resources, relationships with manufacturers, and the dedication required to make offshore wind in the U.S. a reality. In fact, because of our superior “jacket” turbine foundation technology, Deepwater Wind has been selected by two states to build wind farms offshore (in Rhode Island and with our partner PSEG Renewables in New Jersey). But to get these and other projects built within a timeframe that will help meet our country’s urgent energy demands, there needs to be coordinated action between federal and state governments to accelerate the permitting process. With the roadblocks to offshore development taken down, we can achieve energy independence, stem climate change, and put America to work building a sustainable economy.

Perhaps just as important, Deepwater Wind can build wind farms 20 miles offshore, making them virtually invisible to coastal communities. For the first time in our nation’s history, we will create abundant energy without harming the environment or degrading the beauty of our natural landscapes.

Deepwater Wind utilizes proven, state-of-the-art “jacket” foundation technology that allows wind turbines to be cost-effectively deployed in water depths up to 150 feet. (Conventional monopiles become costly in more than 70 feet of water.)

* Deepwater Wind’s jacket foundation technology is the standard in the offshore oil and gas industries. In fact, the same technology has been used in waters 1,000 feet deep.
* Deepwater Wind employs a patent-pending assembly system that eliminates the need for expensive European service vessels, most of which have already been booked years in advance.
* Deepwater Wind works only with world-class marinized turbine suppliers, combining proven and reliable technology with state-of-the-art innovation to meet energy demand.
* As new innovations are needed, Deepwater Wind will work with leading engineers to develop appropriate solutions—such as tension leg systems for floating turbine platforms, which are already being studied.

Deepwater Wind has been selected by two states to develop sizable offshore wind projects (in Rhode Island and with our partner PSEG Renewables in New Jersey). In addition, we are evaluating a series of promising sites for the deployment of offshore wind farms from Maryland to Maine. Each project will be tailored to meet local needs in terms of scale and location. All of our projects are subject to siting and permitting processes administered by the federal government’s Minerals Management Service.