The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) State Energy Program has awarded $592,683 in competitive funds to several Northeastern states and organizations to jump-start the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry.
According to the DOE, the recipients are the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, the Maine Governor's Office, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) to advance offshore wind market development through multi-state cooperation.
Despite the tremendous potential of offshore wind, its high cost is a major barrier to development, the DOE notes. Although no offshore wind farms have yet been completed in U.S. waters, the European experience has demonstrated that a market of sufficient scale and duration can reduce costs. Europe has installed over 8 GW, and costs have decreased dramatically. A recent report by BVG Associates predicts that offshore wind projects in the U.K., for example, will be cost-competitive with new natural gas plants by 2020.
Although the individual states are already taking important steps to advance offshore wind, and will continue to do so, cooperation among them has the potential to speed progress and reduce costs. Through this DOE award for state energy planning through regional collaboration, the four Northeast states and CESA will examine how to bring offshore wind to scale in the Northeast, quantify cost improvements associated with a pipeline of projects and identify opportunities for regional collaboration. The final project deliverable will be a regional road map detailing the near- and long-term regional market and the individual state actions and collaborative approaches needed to improve the offshore wind project pipeline beyond ‘one-off’ projects.
The states will develop a regional road map detailing actions that states can take individually and collaboratively to support offshore wind development at scale. Offshore wind can help meet state greenhouse-gas emissions goals and renewable energy targets while providing multiple other benefits, such as grid reliability, peak demand generation and reduced transmission costs.
The award comes amidst some recent market progress with the nation's first offshore wind demonstration project (Deepwater Wind's 30 MW project) installing U.S.-made foundations off the coast of Rhode Island in July.
The announcement also follows this summer's release of New York's State Energy Plan, as well as New York City's request for information on options for new renewable energy generation capacity. The state's offshore wind resources could be used to meet the city's goal of 100% renewable energy for government operations.