Monday, December 14, 2009

First Offshore Wind Energy Facility in U.S.

The company Deepwater Wind announced a deal last week to sell power from the first phase of a Rhode Island project that eventually could supply 15 percent of the state's electricity. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Deepwater Wind will sell electricity from up to 8 turbines producing 28 megawatts to National Grid Plc. Earlier this year Rhode Island set a target to obtain 20 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2015.

Currently there are no offshore wind projects operating off the United States.

The other contender to become the first U.S. offshore wind farm is Cape Wind, a 130-turbine, $1 billion wind farm planned off the coast of Massachusetts, that has been mired in protests by critics.

The first phase of Deepwater's project, called the Block Island Wind Farm, is expected to start operations in 2013. Its turbines are planned to go up 3 miles off the coast of Block Island in state-owned waters. The project includes plans to build a transmission line to Block Island, which currently relies mostly on diesel fuel. Any excess electricity generated by the project that the island does not use will be fed to the state's main grid.

Deepwater also plans to build a larger utility-scale offshore wind power project in federal waters. The company could build the larger project in 2014 or 2015 and could grow it to 500 MW. Together the projects would generate about 1.3 million megawatt hours of electricity annually, enough to meet 15 percent of the state's energy needs, and cost $1.5 billion.

Deepwater also plans to bid for a proposed utility-scale offshore wind project off New York in the first quarter of 2010.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Wave Energy Project Proposed for Central California

Pacific Gas & Electric is preparing to seek approval to study a future wave energy project located off the California coast near Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The project, which could take years to become operational, would generate as much as 100 megawatts of power, providing permanent non-fossil-fueled electricity for the base in Santa Barbara County. PG&E is expected to seek the permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has been designated as the umbrella agency for wave energy project approval in the nation.

PG&E is already studying a wave energy power station in Humboldt Bay in Northern California and has launched a Web site,, to promote its initiatives.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oregon Wave Power Project Advances

Last Friday morning, New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies announced that it had contracted with Oregon Iron Works to start building what it hopes will become a 10-buoy test system in the waters off Reedsport, Ore.

The first buoy is expected to deploy in a year. Two years after that, nine more buoys should go into the water. The fully deployed, $60 million system is expected to have a capacity of 1.5 megawatts — about half that of a single giant wind turbine (though the waves should be able to provide power around the clock, unlike the intermittent wind). OPT hopes to develop a much larger wave farm nearby that could have as many as 200 buoys.

The project will sit 2.5 miles offshore and connect to a Bonneville Power Administration substation. The project was being paid for with a combination of funds from Ocean Power, as well as federal dollars, Oregon tax breaks and money from the electric company, PNGC Power, which has agreed to purchase the power for its customers in Douglass County, Ore.