Deepwater Wind wins 3.4GW offshore tender

UNITED STATES: Deepwater Wind emerged the winner in the US's first offshore wind competitive lease auction, bidding $3.8 million for the rights to develop two parcels off the coast of Rhode Island.

The company plans to develop the Deepwater Wind Energy Centre (DWEC), which has a planned capacity of up to 1GW. Construction could begin as early as 2017, with commercial operations by 2018.

"This is an enormous step forward for the industry. This is the best site for offshore wind in the United States, bar none," said CEO Jeffrey Grybowski.

Of the nine companies that met the financial and technical qualifications to participate, only three showed up on auction day. Deepwater beat Sea Breeze Energy and US Wind Inc. in 11 rounds of bidding. Energy Management Inc., EDF, Fishermen's Energy, Iberdrola, Mainstream and Neptune Wind did not participate.

Earlier this year Deepwater criticised the auction process for offshore leases on the Atlantic coast as 'fatally flawed'.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) ran the auctions for the two sites simultaneously. The 97,500-acre north lease area, which has a potential capacity of 1955MW and is located in shallower waters closer to shore, went for $3,744,135. The high bid for the 67,250-acre south lease, with 1440MW of potential, was just $94,153.

In February 2012, the US government launched the leasing process for the potential multi-GW offshore project.

The environmental assessment for the Rhode Island/Massachusetts Wind Energy Area will be used by BOEM for future leasing decisions as part of the 'Smart from the Start' fast-track programme.

The Smart from the Start initiative, launched last November, aims to cut seven-to-nine-year planning time for offshore wind schemes in the States by two years or more.