Governor, Interior Secretary show commitment to offshore wind power movement

Host Governor Martin O’Malley and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar got the festivities underway at the Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition yesterday by underscoring the industry’s ability to generate economic development and calling for continued unwavering commitment—from the industry and government alike—to keep achieving benchmarks in the effort to accelerate offshore wind farm development in the U.S.

One of those benchmarks could be right around the corner. Salazar, who signed the first commercial offshore wind power lease ( for Cape Wind) at last year’s conference, said that Interior is close to signing a second lease. At a media availability following the opening session, he said that as many as five leases could be coming just within the next year, following a competitive process. "I expect we will be issuing a second offshore wind lease within months, maybe within weeks," he said.

O’Malley referred to wind power as a central part of the "innovation economy" that he wants to keep growing in Maryland. "Wind energy means jobs, and part of the benefit of your industry is that your turbines tend to be built close to where you install them," said O’Malley, showing his understanding of the industry.

That trend is already in full force in land-based wind energy, noted AWEA CEO Denise Bode, who also spoke at the opening session. Domestic content in wind turbines has surged to over 60 percent from 25 percent just five years ago, she noted. Offshore wind power, meanwhile, will require a whole new manufacturing and logistics infrastructure, primarily near the coast. "We’re a success story onshore, and we’ve got to have that same success story offshore," she said.

Salazar, O’Malley, and Bode all urged the industry and America to keep pushing forward in establishing a new industry. Salazar pledged to keep streamlining government processes to foster offshore wind development, and O’Malley welcomed the industry to his state with open arms. The speakers all called for federal policy stability such as extension of the Production Tax Credit. At the media availability, Salazar pointed out that action by Congress is needed for the industry to achieve its potential. In Maryland, two recent polls have shown strong support for policies that foster the development of offshore wind power. "Our greatest challenges are not primarily financial, nor are they technical," O’Malley said. "Our greatest challenges are political."

On the trade show floor, activity was brisk on the first day for the 100 exhibitors, which cover over 20,000 square feet of exhibit space. The conference continues today, highlighted by the always-anticipated OEM/major turbine manufacturers panel at the afternoon general session (3 p.m., Ballroom 2).

Deepwater Wind to deploy 6-MW Siemens wind turbines for Block Island wind farm project

The town square that is Offshore WINDPOWER makes the event a medium for companies to announce news, and this year’s event is no different. Deepwater Wind announced here in Baltimore that it has signed an agreement to purchase five of Siemens Energy’s latest offshore wind turbines—a 6-MW unit—for the Block Island Wind Farm. That would mark one of the first deployments of the machine in the world for the leading offshore wind turbine producer, which has some 2,000 MW of installed offshore capacity already in the water.

Deepwater Wind CEO William Moore and Thomas Mousten, head of Offshore for the Americas at Siemens Wind Power, will be available for questions today at Offshore WINDPOWER, from 1:30 to 2 p.m. EDT in Press Room 331/332 of the Baltimore Convention Center.