On October 12, 2010, the New York Times published an article highlighting Google’s decision to invest in a 350 mile underwater transmission grid along the Atlantic seaboard from New Jersey to Norfolk, VA in an effort to spur investment and remove development obstacles. The transmission grid has a capacity equal to the output of five large nuclear reactors.
The potential problems still to face are administrative hurdles. A professor quoted in the article from the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware points out the federal subsidy program for wind is expected to expire in 2012, which is likely before the Interior Department issues permits for the proposed transmission line. Nonetheless energy experts, environmentalists and investors alike see this as a positive step in kick-starting the offshore wind industry.
The full article can be found here.
The University of Maine’s AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center and the DeepCwind Consortium hosted the first annual Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Conference on October 19th in Northport, Maine.
Session topics included:
• Deepwater offshore wind and economic development
• Responsible siting of deepwater offshore wind turbines
• Environmental/ecological monitoring activities at the University of Maine Deepwater Offshore Wind Test Site
• Deepwater floating wind turbine technology development
The Free Press Online writer Christine Parrish documented the event, explaining in an article from October 21st, 2010, discussions between experts focused on all aspects of offshore wind technology, including “cost and benefit analysis, job creation, wind turbine technology, permitting and siting, environmental monitoring and deployment of wind turbines”.
Dr. Habib Dagher, director of AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine discussed the offshore wind future in Maine. The first ocean-based wind turbine will be installed off Monhegan in 2012, with additional extensive plans through 2030. The total electricity generated is estimated to equal that of 5 nuclear power plants.
The first offshore wind lab in the country is being built at the University of Maine, where wind blades and other components up to 230 feet long will be able to be designed, manufactured and tested with simulated extreme condition the structures would encounter in the field, including 50-60 foot high waves.
Dagher stressed the importance of the initial deployment of wind turbines, explaining “[they] will provide data on the durability of the materials, the designs, the environmental impact, and other factors that will fine-tune offshore wind development as it moves forward”.
Dagher discussed the overall viability of offshore wind power in the Gulf of Maine as well as DeepCwind and University of Maine’s invitation for offshore wind turbine design proposals. The top three designs will be built at the University of Maine Offshore Wind Lab. According to Dagher, the Gulf of Maine winds are among the strongest in the nation and have the potential to supply 149 gigawatts of power. This estimate isn’t too out of line with the NREL study discussed in the October 20th blog entry.
An article published in the New York Times on October, 8th, 2010, highlights the benchmark findings of a 240 page report by the National Renewable Energy Lab.
The NREL report, titled “Large Scale Offshore Wind Power: Assessment of Opportunities and Barriers“, which came out in September, delivers a well-rounded analysis of the offshore wind market in the United States.
The New York Times article focuses on the costs being a potential show stopper, explaining rather intuitively that shifting economic factors such as commodity pricing, and technological uncertainties that are associated with such new technologies can ultimately affect capital costs. The results are cost estimates that vary as much as generation options our nation can pursue in the upcoming decades.
Project costs from 2007 through 2009 ranged from $2,500 per kilowatt to $5,800 per kilowatt. On average, according to the study, costs have increased 56 percent since the 1991-2006 period of development.”
Despite cost uncertainties, estimates based on NREL’s least-cost optimization model, claim 54GW of added wind capacity can come from offshore wind and generate 20% of U.S. electricity demand. This generation amount would create at least 43,000 permanent, skilled jobs, and create $200 billion in economic activity.
Below is a map from the study documenting gross level potential for offshore wind sites in the U.S. Gross level does not factor in environmental and socioeconomic constraints such as siting restrictions and public concerns. Factor these in, and values can shrink by 60% or more, however, the gross estimates are four times higher than current U.S. electricity demand.
Maine is cited in NREL’s report as facilitating the development of deepwater floating turbines and substructures. For brevity sake, this topic, along with other aspects of the report, will be further explored in later blog entries since it is impossible to cover a report of this length and breadth in one blog entry.
This blog is intended to serve as a resource for those interested in the evolving development of ocean energy within the state of Maine, nationally, as well as globally. It is supported by the Ocean Energy Institute in Rockland, Maine. This site was developed by Chelsea Amaio. To learn more about Chelsea, go here.
My name is Chelsea Amaio and I am interning at the Ocean Energy Institute. I am a senior at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine obtaining a BS in Environmental Studies with a minor in Economics. I will be graduating this December magna cum laude.
My environmental interests have ranged widely, from trail work in Pennsylvania and Alaska, to teaching environmental education in Connecticut and Florida. I have most recently focused my interests on the field of renewable energy technology, first assisting in advancing an incentive prize program with the Foundation for Geothermal Innovation based out of Los Angeles, CA, and now doing alternative energy research at the Ocean Energy Institute based out of Rockland, Maine.
Questions regarding the blog please direct to me at email@example.com. For more information regarding OEI, please visit the official website or contact at Info@oceanenergy.org.