PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Deepwater Wind plans to construct the Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC), the first of the “second generation” of offshore wind farms in the United States.
At a capacity of approximately 1,000 megawatts (MW) and with the ability to act as a regional offshore wind energy center serving multiple states, DWEC is an important step in moving toward a U.S.-based, clean-energy future. DWEC will be sited in the deep ocean waters of southern Rhode Island Sound, where it will be barely visible from the shore. Construction is planned to begin in 2014, with the first wind turbines in operation by the end of 2015.
“This ‘second generation’ of offshore wind farms will be larger and farther from shore, and will produce lower priced power, using more advanced technology than the offshore projects announced to date,” said Deepwater Wind CEO William M. Moore. “We expect the offshore wind industry in the United States to follow the European experience, where a more mature industry is building larger projects farther from shore.”
With as many as 200 wind turbines, DWEC will be the largest offshore wind farm ever planned in the United States. Because of the economies of scale gained by building a large facility and also because of the continuing maturity of the offshore wind industry, DWEC’s power price will be lower than earlier offshore wind projects proposed in the United States. DWEC will demonstrate that as the offshore wind industry continues to mature, its energy prices will become increasingly competitive with plants that burn fossil fuels — but without the environmental problems that plague fossil fuel plants.
Deepwater Wind recently filed an unsolicited nomination to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) to lease the ocean site where it plans to locate DWEC. BOEMRE is currently reviewing Deepwater Wind’s lease request in consultation with task forces organized at the state level in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Deepwater Wind’s submission will be subject to federal and state review, and if a lease is awarded, the project will be subject to extensive permitting reviews and public comment opportunities.
Deepwater Wind also announced that it is developing a regional offshore transmission network, the New England-Long Island Interconnector (NELI), connecting DWEC to southern New England and eastern Long Island. NELI will allow the wind farm to send power to multiple states in the region.
Deepwater Wind plans to market power from DWEC to several states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut.
“The Deepwater Wind Energy Center is a major leap forward for the offshore wind industry,” Moore said. “DWEC will be the first regional offshore wind energy center in the United States, with a wind farm and a transmission system serving multiple markets. The industry is maturing and becoming a major force in reshaping our national energy future for the better, and DWEC will lead this effort.”
For the entire wind farm, most of the turbines will be located 20–25 miles from shore. No turbine will be located any closer than 13.8 miles from inhabited land, with only a few turbines located at that distance. At these distances, the wind farm will be barely visible from the shore and the project site can take advantage of the stronger winds found in the open ocean.
DWEC is the utility-scale offshore wind farm referred to in the Joint Development Agreement between Deepwater Wind and Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind has been identified as the preferred developer of offshore wind at the proposed project area, which is within the Area of Mutual Interest identified by the governors of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The DWEC site is also within the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) area studied by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). Through the leadership of the CRMC, the Ocean SAMP is recognized as a national model of ocean planning and is expected to accelerate the permitting of projects in Rhode Island sites by several years.
As a 1,000 MW regional offshore wind energy center, DWEC is a first-of-its-kind project in several ways and serves as a model for future Deepwater Wind projects.
First, it is the largest renewable energy project ever proposed for the northeast United States. “Energy independence for our nation is possible only by taking bold steps to wean ourselves off of our addiction to fossil fuels,” Moore said. “Second generation utility-scale wind farms like DWEC can significantly reduce our need to burn fossil fuels, improve local air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions — problems that are especially acute in the densely-populated Northeast.”
Second, the projected pricing of the power from DWEC is expected to be lower than that proposed for any offshore wind farm ever planned in the United States. The wholesale price of power depends on the final size of the project, the final configuration of the transmission system, and the continued availability of federal tax incentives; however, Deepwater Wind expects the pricing on a kilowatt-hour basis to be in the mid-teens (measured in cents). DWEC will demonstrate that offshore wind is becoming increasingly competitive with fossil fuel plants.
Third, at 1,000 MWs, DWEC may entice both domestic and foreign suppliers to seriously consider establishing significant parts of their fabrication, manufacturing, assembly, and support services in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. According to the Memorandum of Understanding between those two states, they will coordinate economic development to maximize job creation in the region. Before DWEC, the United States market was seen as underdeveloped and not large enough to justify a new manufacturing base for suppliers of components such as turbines and blades.
For more information, visit www.dwwind.com.