Offshore wind energy in North America

Maersk Line Ltd., a Norfolk-based shipping line, is teaming up with Apex Offshore Wind LLC to develop utility-scale offshore wind energy facilities, the two companies announced Friday.

The wind power partnership will meld Maersk’s maritime expertise with the groundwork Apex already has completed to develop offshore wind farm plants.

"This is very much a long-term exercise," said Tim Ryan, president of Apex Offshore Wind, a subsidiary of Apex Wind Energy Holdings LLC of Charlottesville.

While offshore wind turbines is well established in Europe, with some wind farm projects there in place for more than 20 years, there are not yet any in operation or under construction in North America, Ryan said.

A handful of wind farm projects are moving closer to realization, including the Cape Wind wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts as well as others off Atlantic City, N.J.; Block Island, R.I.; and in Lake Erie, near Cleveland, Ryan said.

"It has been a very long-term horse race to see who’s going to be the first in the water," Ryan said. Apex’s website identifies four offshore wind farm projects in the works, including off Hampton Roads, the Outer Banks and the Maryland coast, as well as another Lake Erie project, off western New York.

"We’ve been pursuing submerged land leases for those areas," Ryan said. "In Apex, we’ve found a partner that shares our values and entrepreneurial spirit and that is committed to bringing this promising new energy resource to the continent," said Greg Moore, vice president of business development at Maersk Line Ltd., in a news release.

The shipping line has no experience with offshore wind power projects to date, said Kevin Speers, a spokesman for the company.

A unit of Copenhagen-based A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, Maersk Line Ltd. provides U.S. flag transportation, ship management and maritime-technical services to government and commercial firms.

A.P. Moller-Maersk has some business interests in offshore oil production, and the expertise it has acquired could be applied to the wind-energy sector, Speers said. However, Maersk Line Ltd. itself has considerable expertise and technological capability in the maritime environment to enable it to build and maintain offshore wind facilities, he added.

Robert McCabe,