With the launch of the 30MW Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island, the establishment of America’s offshore wind industry is now a reality. But the question remains can offshore wind generate the amount of electricity at costs to commercially compete?
In December, America’s offshore wind industry was officially born, when the 30MW Block Island Wind Farm began commercial operations off the coast of Rhode Island. Now comes a bigger test: Can offshore wind generate large, commercial amounts of electricity in the United States?
“It will need a clear commitment and strong support from both the federal and state governments to have a real offshore industry,” said Feng Zhou, a senior director at FTI Consulting. “It takes time, but we believe the US will be there toward the end of this decade.”
Providence-based Deepwater Wind, which owns the Block Island Wind Farm, received approval early this year from New York State to construct a 90MW wind farm off the coast of Long Island. Denmark’s Deng Energy and a subsidiary of Norwegian oil giant Statoil are both trawling for projects.
Another key player in this push is a Baltimore-based company called US Wind. It’s a subsidiary of the Italian construction conglomerate Toto Holdings. It has development holdings in three sites off the East Coast – in Maryland, New Jersey and South Carolina.
The Maryland site is furthest along, with the possibility – admittedly aggressive – of production by 2020. US Wind has initial plans for 250MW, with another 500MW on the drawing board. The cost of the 750MW project is $1.6 billion.
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