DOE announces investments in offshore wind energy projects

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U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced seven offshore wind awards for projects in Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Virginia.

As part of the DOE's broader efforts to launch an offshore wind industry in the U.S., these engineering, design and deployment projects will support offshore installations in state and federal waters for commercial operation by 2017.

"The U.S. has tremendous untapped clean energy resources, and it is important for us to develop technologies that will allow us to utilize those resources in ways that are economically viable," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "Today's announcement of awards to the first offshore wind projects in the U.S. paves the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and more diverse domestic energy portfolio that develops every source of American energy."

Offshore wind represents a large, untapped energy resource for the U.S. — offering over 4,000 GW of clean, domestic electricity potential, four times the nation's current total generation capacity.

According to a new report commissioned by the DOE, a U.S. offshore wind industry that takes advantage of this abundant domestic resource could support up to 200,000 manufacturing, construction, operation and supply chain jobs across the country and drive over $70 billion in annual investments by 2030. Offshore wind represents an economic and energy opportunity that could mirror the success of land-based wind development.

Last year, land-based wind power represented 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions in the U.S., accounting for $14 billion in new investment. Nearly seventy percent of the equipment installed at those U.S. wind farms — including wind turbines and components like towers, blades, gears and generators — is now from domestic manufacturers, doubling from 35 percent in 2005.

The Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is set to expire at the end of 2012, has been a major driver of this tremendous expansion — helping to employ thousands of Americans and launch new businesses across the country. To continue the growth of U.S. wind energy production and component manufacturing, the Obama administration has called on Congress to extend successful clean energy tax credits like the PTC.

The DOE investment announced today will help speed the deployment of stronger, more efficient offshore wind power technologies and showcase innovative technologies — helping to further lower costs and drive greater performance. These projects will also help clear hurdles to installing utility-scale turbines in U.S. waters, connecting to the power grid and navigating new siting and permitting processes.

The DOE will work with each project to test these innovations in real offshore environments and conduct comprehensive instrumentation and data analysis that will help accelerate future U.S. offshore wind deployment.

In the initial phase, each project will receive up to $4 million to complete the engineering, design and permitting phase of this award. The Department will select up to three of these projects for follow-on phases that focus on siting, construction and installation and aim to achieve commercial operation by 2017. These projects will receive up to $47 million each over four years, subject to Congressional appropriations.

The DOE's efforts to advance innovative offshore wind technologies support the Obama administration's comprehensive National Offshore Wind Strategy to develop a sustainable, world-class offshore wind industry. As part of that strategy, the DOE continues to work with partners across the government, including the Department of the Interior, to conduct resource assessments, streamline siting and permitting and overcome technical and market challenges to installation, operations and grid interconnection.

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