The U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has taken the next step in the assessment of a proposed project to demonstrate floating offshore wind technology on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off the coast of Maine.
Statoil North America has requested a commercial wind lease to build a demonstration project of full-scale floating wind turbine technology offshore Maine. The proposed project, located about 12 nautical miles off the coast, would consist of four wind turbines with a cumulative capacity of 12 MW. The Statoil proposal is in response to a request for proposals issued by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
"This is the first time that this innovative floating technology is being considered for development in deeper waters offshore our coasts," notes DOI Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes.
"We will continue our close coordination as the U.S. federal government, the state of Maine and other stakeholders proceed with the next steps in the review of this project, including moving forward with environmental review and determining whether there's competitive interest from other developers," adds BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau.
The bureau is seeking public comment – through a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) – on important environmental issues and reasonable alternatives related to the proposed leasing, site characterization and assessment activities, and construction and operation activities in the offshore area under consideration.
BOEM intends to prepare an EIS that will consider the reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences associated with the Statoil Hywind Maine project and will request comments from the public for the purpose of identifying the important issues to be considered in the EIS.
The area Statoil North America has requested for a commercial wind lease covers approximately 22 square miles. The area may be reduced based on the EIS analysis and other factors, BOEM notes.
BOEM is also asking whether other developers are interested in constructing wind facilities in the same area off the coast of Maine, in order to determine whether to proceed with leasing on a competitive or non-competitive basis. Publication of a request for interest in the Federal Register will open a 60-day public comment period to solicit submissions of indications of competitive interest and additional information on potential environmental consequences and other uses of the proposed lease area.
Statoil North America submitted an unsolicited application for commercial wind energy lease on the OCS offshore Maine to BOEM in October 2011. BOEM determined Statoil North America to be legally qualified in November 2011 and technically and financially qualified in April 2012.
More information is available here.