Giant Offshore Wind Farm Planned for Rhode Island, Massachusetts Coast

There may not be single offshore wind farm operating in the US yet, but the industry is already onto a "second generation" of much larger projects.

If it’s selected, Deepwater Wind Energy Center would be a 200 turbine, 1000 MW wind farm about 20 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Construction would begin in 2015, with electricity pumping two years later.

Deepwater Wind submitted the project in response to a federal request for proposals for the site, which has been identified as a priority site for offshore wind in the US.

How is this a "second generation" offshore wind farm?

It will be larger and farther from shore, and will produce lower-priced power, using more advanced technology than any of the offshore projects announced to date," says William Moore, Deepwater Wind CEO.

There’s a catch. The transmission system needed to transport that power to multiple East Coast states doesn’t exist.

So, Deepwater says it’s developing the New England-Long Island Interconnector (NELI) transmission network, which would send the electricity to nearby states.

Last year, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and BOEMRE launched the "Smart from the Start" initiative, which seeks to jumpstart offshore wind in the US.

Smart from the Start takes a proactive approach to siting wind projects which have been held up by siting concerns, lack of a clear regulatory structure, and congressional budget battles.

The first project will be off the coast of Delaware, developed by Bluewater Wind Delaware.

Plans for a Mid-Atlantic transmission system are underway. Google joined other investors to finance the Atlantic Wind Connection, which will be able to connect 6,000 MW of offshore wind turbines to the grid. Construction will begin in 2013.

Deepwater also plans to submit a bid for a utility-scale wind farm off the coast of Long Island.

The world’s offshore wind capacity is expected to surge to 70.1 gigawatts (GW) by the end of 2017, up from 4.1 GW in 2011, according to Pike Research. That represents $104 billion by 2017, a 53% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next six years, says an updated report. In a more aggressive scenario, revenues could reach $130.5 billion by then. About 75% of this growth is expected to be in western Europe.

The report notes the cost of offshore wind generation can be two to three times higher than that for onshore wind, and the fate of the industry hinges on driving down the cost of energy closer to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour over the next two decades.

Here’s the report:

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