Offshore wind: significant investment in research and development

Signficant Investment in Research and Development

The research and development (R&D) of offshore wind in the United States has focused on near-term, shallow-water deployments in the Atlantic, Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico in order to jump start a commercial market in those areas. In addition, DOE has targeted strategic investment in floating foundation technology for projects in deeper water, including off the Coast of Maine and the West Coast.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to lowering the levelized cost of energy, accelerating permitting timelines, and promoting public and utility acceptance across regions with strong wind resources and developer interest. 

As an example, in order to help speed these technical innovations and drive down costs, in late 2011, DOE announced the commitment of $43 million in funding for forty-one projects across twenty states.

Of the 41 projects, 19 received $26.5 million to aid in the development of engineering modeling and analysis tools that will help to lower overall offshore facility costs and to facilitate development of the next generation of large-scale turbines. This includes R&D for innovations in key components, such as floating support structures and turbine rotor and control subsystems.

Furthermore, 22 projects received $16.5 millionto research project design factors, such as, environmental impact assessment and characterization of offshore wind resources. These projects also focus on removing market barriers to investment and infrastructure development, including addressing long-term manufacturing needs, port requirements, and transmission grid integration.

In March 2012, the DOE made a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects as part of a six-year $180 million initiative. The overarching goal of this FOA is to provide funding to verify innovative designs and technology developments and help lower costs.

In December 2012, DOE announced seven winners for this funding opportunity including projects based off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as in the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico. Each winner will receive up to $4 million to complete the engineering site evaluation and planning phase of project. Upon completion of this phase, DOE will select up to three of these projects to receive additional funding for the follow-on design, fabrication and deployment phases to achieve operation by 2017. As a result, each project will be eligible to receive up to $51 million, subject to congressional appropriations.

Finally, in May of 2014, DOE announced the winners of the next phase of this initiative. The three projects selected were Fishermen's Energy’s 25 MW project offshore of Atlantic City, New Jersey; Dominion Power’s 12 MW project offshore of Virginia Beach, Virginia; and, on the West Coast, Principle Power’s 30 MW project offshore of Coos Bay, Oregon. Each team will receive up to $46.7 million over four years for continued efforts related to permitting, power off-take, and grid interconnection in order to achieve operation by 2017.