Offshore: United States permits

Five offshore wind development leases awarded by the US government will allow three companies to place meteorological towers off the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware.

One lease was granted to Fisherman's Energy, with two each going to Bluewater Wind and Deepwater Wind. "The US's day has arrived for getting offshore wind energy started in earnest," says Bluewater's Rob Propes. "It will be a while before we catch up with the Europeans, but with the current administration at the federal level and the support we're seeing at the state level, there's significant potential to have a number of offshore projects going on simultaneously." The projects could be built between 25 and 32 kilometres offshore and consist of up to 100 turbines each, with construction starting as early as 2012. Propes believes higher offshore project costs are offset by built-in advantages such as proximity to energy demand and stronger, steadier wind. "When you compare land-based wind in the east with offshore wind, there's certainly a more reliable and higher capacity factor wind resource offshore," he says. Bluewater's Delaware project already holds a power purchase agreement (PPA) with utility Delmarva Power for up to 200 MW. The project is planned for a minimum of 238 MW.