The developers of two of the most advanced offshore wind farm projects planned for US waters – Block Island, off Rhode Island, and Atlantic City, off New Jersey’s coast – are convinced that 'seeing is believing'.
Once their projects are built, offshore wind sceptics will be won over and progress toward larger, utility-scale projects will accelerate, argue the two developers, Deepwater Wind and Fishermen’s Energy.
Speaking yesterday at AWEA’s offshore conference in Virginia Beach, the chief executive of Deepwater Wind, William Moore, emphasised that his company's 30MW Block Island project is on schedule to be the first offshore wind farm to be built in US waters.
The developer is seeking financial close for Block Island by the end of 2013, with construction to begin in 2014. "We think Block Island will prove that we can generate electricity, and that we can do so at competitive prices," said Moore. Deepwater Wind recently submitted applications to build the five-turbine Block Island project to federal and state authorities.
Moore defended Deepwater Wind's decision to focus on an initial, small-scale project, claiming it is easier to develop, finance and build than a project ten times the size. "Having this project in operation will provide invaluable experience for others and allow us to build much larger projects," he added.
New Jersey offshore wind developer, Fishermen’s Energy, has a similar perspective. Speaking with Windpower Offshore, managing director of development, Aviv Goldsmith, said his company's 25MW Atlantic City project would "help catalyse the industry".
With turbines due to be visible from the New Jersey shore and not far from major east coast cities, the project will help ordinary Americans realise that offshore wind is a realistic proposition, added Goldsmith.
Atlantic City enjoys widespread support from the local community and is backed by commercial fishermen in the area. "We are laying the foundations for a new home-grown industry," said Goldsmith. The Atlantic City project has received a construction permit, but uncertainty about a New Jersey state incentive scheme appear to be causing delays.