The United States may lag behind some other countries in the world when it comes to offshore wind energy, but an effort is underway to boost its presence in the energy mix.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wants to know what capabilities exist and what is needed on a national level for wind R&D test facilities.
The federal agency has put out a call to the public, specifically seeking information on facilities capable of conducting unique offshore wind R&D in the U.S., needed upgrades for existing facilities or new ones for cutting-edge offshore wind R&D and knowledge on specific tests and analyses that could take place at these facilities to move the offshore wind industry forward, according to the DOE’s website.
“Testing of offshore wind components and scale-prototypes is critical to help advance America’s offshore wind industry,” Undersecretary of Energy Mark Menezes said in a news release. “Through this request, we are looking to better understand our U.S. offshore wind testing capabilities and how we can improve those facilities to compete in the global market.”
The offshore wind sector has taken off in other parts of the world such as Europe, where 4.5 GW of wind energy capacity was added during first-half 2018, according to industry body Wind Europe. Of that, 3.3 GW was added offshore, mainly in shallow water offshore the U.K., Belgium and Denmark.
The International Energy Agency forecasts offshore wind capacity to hit 41 GW by 2022, up from 14 GW in 2016.
Currently, the U.S. has only one offshore wind development—Deepwater Wind’s 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm in the Atlantic Ocean offshore Rhode Island. But more are on the horizon.
Six projects built on MW-scale floating turbines have been developed in the U.S. “They’ve been deployed to the degree that we can say they are successful. They didn’t fail,” Walt Musial, principal engineer and manager of offshore wind for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), said during a July floating wind event in Houston. “They can pass general standards criteria that we would apply to them. They demonstrated that they can meet energy production over a long period of time.”
During the event, folks from the wind sector and oil and gas discussed offshore wind potential in the U.S. and how the floating wind sector could use expertise gained from the oil and gas industry, which is active offshore and in deep water. Some traditional oil and gas companies have already added renewables such as offshore wind to their portfolios and subsea-focused oilfield service companies are now also serving the renewables sector in areas such as providing engineering, procurement, construction and installation work or installing cables and mooring systems.
U.S. offshore wind has a technical resource potential of about 2,000 GW or 7,200 TWh of generation per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. So far, 11 floating wind projects totaling 229 MW are in the pre-commercial phase, according to NREL.
This comes as research continues in efforts to lower costs and create technologies that will facilitate the deployment of offshore wind energy.
Information gathered by the DOE will be used toward development of offshore wind facilities. The request for information (RFI) is being made by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office. Anyone wanting to respond to the RFI should submit information to email@example.com no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on Sept. 14.
Velda Addison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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