DOE announced on March 1 the start of an initiative to capture wind energy off U.S. coasts. As part of a planned six-year, $180 million initiative, an initial $20 million will be available this year as the first step in supporting up to four innovative offshore wind energy installations. These offshore wind projects will accelerate the deployment of breakthrough wind power technologies that will help diversify the U.S. energy portfolio. Offshore wind resources in the United States are estimated at more than 4,000 gigawatts.
The demonstration projects will help address key challenges associated with installing utility-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes. In addition to the new funding, DOE is continuing to work with partners across the federal government to implement a comprehensive offshore wind energy strategy, conduct resource assessments, and streamline siting and permitting processes.
Applicants to the competitive solicitation are expected to form consortia of energy project developers, equipment suppliers, research institutions, and marine-installation specialists. DOE funds may be used to cover up to 80% of a project’s design costs and 50% of the hardware and installation costs. Applications are due on May 31, 2012.