US wind developers Cape Wind have applied to relinquish its lease offshore Massachusetts, which at one time had been set to be America's first offshore wind farm. A series of setbacks endured by Cape Wind allowed the honor of America's first offshore wind farm to be bestowed upon Deepwater Wind's Block Island Wind Farm, offshore Rhode Island instead.
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A US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) spokesperson told OE: "BOEM received an application from Cape Wind Associates on Friday (1 December) requesting to relinquish it lease. BOEM is currently reviewing this request."
The 468 MW Cape Wind project was proposed in November 2001. The lease area is comprised of approximately 46sq mi in Nantucket Sound, 25sq mi of which make up the project footprint area on Horseshoe Shoal, according to BOEM. The lease includes a five-year site assessment term and a 28-year operations term.
The developers requested a two-year suspension of operations on 26 February 2015, a request that was granted in July of that year. The suspension expired in July 2017. BOEM reported that Cape Wind sought another two-year suspension of operations terms of its commercial lease and a suspension of its payment obligations back in June this year.
National Ocean Industry Association (NOIA) expressed their disappointment at the news of the surrender of the lease.
“Cape Wind’s surrender of its offshore wind energy lease, which the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management rightly affirmed in September, is disappointing," said NOIA President Randall Luthi on 4 December. "While Cape Wind ultimately decided to end their hard-fought 16-year quest to bring offshore wind power to Massachusetts, NOIA will continue our support of the US offshore wind sector.”
America's first offshore wind project, Block Island Wind Farm, came onstream in late 2016. OE profiled the project in our July 2016 issue. Other companies have set their sights on projects offshore the US. Norway's Statoil secured a lease in late 2016, for a project that it has named Empire Wind. Denmark's Ørsted (formerly DONG) has two projects underway: Bay State Wind, offshore Massachusetts, and Ocean Wind, offshore New Jersey. Fugro was recently chosen to undertake geotechnical investigations at both sites.