US has 3.8GW of offshore wind at advanced stage

UNITED STATES: Eleven offshore wind projects totalling more than 3.8GW are in an advanced stage of development, according to new research by the US energy department.

Proposed US offshore wind energy projects in advanced development stages

The projects named have, as a minimum, signed a power purchase agreement, received approval for an interim or commercial lease in state or federal waters, or conducted baseline or geophysical studies at the proposed site.

The biggest projects in the pipeline are the 1GW developments of Deepwater Wind off Rhode Island, and Baryonyx Corporation off Texas. The Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts is rated at 468MW.

NRG Bluewater's 450MW mid-Atlantic project is also listed though it is officially on hold.

The report, Offshore Wind Market and Economic Analysis, was prepared by Navigant Consulting and covers progress in the US offshore wind energy market during 2012.

Since last year’s report two Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) commercial lease auctions for federal waters have taken place. The first, off Virginia, was won by Dominion Virginia Power. The second, Rhode Island & Massachusetts was won by Deepwater Wind.

The University of Maine, in partnership with the US Department of Energy, installed the US’s first offshore wind turbine: a 20kw pilot on a floating foundation, which has been generating power since June.

Average turbine size for the advanced-stage, planned projects is expected to be 4-5MW, the report notes.

It adds that developers continue to test a variety of platform and foundation types, in addressing deeper waters, varying seabed conditions, larger turbines and differing wind and wave conditions.

But it also notes that the challenges they face include cost-competitiveness, a lack of offshore transmission infrastructure and purpose-built ports and vessels, plus an uncertain and lengthy regulatory regime.