US offers $18.5m offshore research grant

UNITED STATES: Secretary of energy Rick Perry has announced $18.5 million in funding for a research and development (R&D) group to work towards reducing the cost of the US offshore wind sector.

Deepwater Wind's 30MW Block Island project is the US' only operational offshore wind farm to date

The Department of Energy (DoE) will make the funding available to a consortium to conduct US-specific research.

It is asking for applications suggesting research topics addressing technological advances, resource and physical site characterisation improvements, installation, operations and maintenance (O&M) and supply chain technology solutions.

The DoE will also select an administrator to coordinate R&D carried out by the consortium, it stated.

Consortium members will also be expected to "contribute funds… and use the research findings to further advance technologies", the DoE added.

A further $2 million will also be allocated to research at the DoE’s national laboratories to support the offshore consortium’s work.

"This work will further DoE’s goal to accelerate the development of offshore wind technologies by supporting fundamental research to reduce the costs of offshore wind energy to successfully compete in regional energy markets," Perry said. 

The US faces several specific challenges in initiating offshore wind development, the DoE conceded, including deep water areas — which require floating foundations — predicting how Atlantic hurricanes will affect offshore turbines, and developing a sufficient supply chain.

The country has just the one operational offshore wind farm — the five-turbine, 30MW Block Island project off the coast of Rhode Island — but developers are exploring the possibility of building other sites in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland and Massachusetts.

Applicants for the DoE funding have until 23 January 2018 to submit concept papers, and 26 March 2018 to submit full applications.