US eyes offshore wind expansion

July 7, 2011

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation & Enforcement (BOEM) will publish a call for information and nominations in the Federal Register to gauge interest in wind energy development offshore New Jersey.

The 418 nautical square mile Atlantic area off New Jersey has been designated a ‘wind energy area' under the federal ‘Smart from the Start' initiative. Comments and information received in response to the call – which could include information on archeological sites, cultural resources, fishing, shipping traffic and environmental issues – will be used to make adjustments to the area.

The area's boundary lies between seven and 23 nautical miles offshore and stretches about 45 nautical miles southwest to northeast along the New Jersey coast.

‘This call is the first step in the commercial renewable energy leasing process and the responses will assist BOEM in determining if there is viable commercial interest in the proposed area,' the agency said. ‘Responses will also inform the bureau as to whether competitive interest exists, which will determine the next steps in the leasing process.'

A similar call for public input issued late last year prompted BOEM to reduce the size of the area under consideration for wind energy development offshore Massachusetts.

The request for interest (RFI) issued last December received nearly 250 comments, BOEM said, including requests from the commercial fishing industry and elected officials calling for a reduction in the area eligible for development. Ten companies have submitted proposals for leases within the RFI area. BOEM will hold additional meetings with the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force before the agency identifies a potential wind energy area.

In April, the agency approved a construction and operations plan for the Cape Wind Energy Project, the US's first offshore wind farm, which will be built in Nantucket Sound offshore Massachusetts. The development calls for 130 3.6MW wind turbines each with a maximum blade height of 440ft each. OE

. . . and seeks structural integrity guidelines A National Research Council report advocates a clear set of standards and practices for the nascent US offshore wind energy industry and urges BOEM to establish performance goals for prospective developers. The BOEM-sponsored study, Structural Integrity of Offshore Wind Turbines: Oversight of Design, Fabrication, and Installation, was conducted by the council's Transportation Research Board. It concludes that performance goals regarding structural integrity, rather than prescribed regulations, would encourage innovation in the offshore wind industry. ‘The industry should then rely on a combination of international standards and guidelines developed by classification societies, as well as designs appropriate for US waters and weather conditions, to develop projects that comply with the performance goals,' urged the National Academies, which along with the research council comprises the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine.


Tidal current catch Marine Current Turbines received the EnergyOcean International 2011 technology pioneer award in Portland, Maine last month for the company's work in successfully demonstrating and running its commercial-scale SeaGen tidal technology (OE February 2010). The 1.2MW SeaGen has been operating in Northern Ireland since 2008.

New wave Alstom has acquired a 40% equity stake in Scottish wave power firm AWS Ocean Energy, a move expected to accelerate development of its AWS-III technology. The French conglomerate, well established in the tidal energy and offshore wind sectors but with no wave energy investment until now, becomes a shareholder alongside the Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1 and Scottish Enterprise/Scottish Investment Bank. Alstom SVP hydro and wind Philippe Cochet said: ‘We are extremely excited about entering the wave energy market at this pivotal time.'

 

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