Offshore Wind Energy Cost Competitive by 2020

John Davis

Deepwater wind energy turbines off the coast of Maine could be producing electricity that is cost competitive with conventional generation techniques within the next 10 years.

The Portland (ME) Press Herald reports that a study from the University of Maine shows that floating giant wind turbines 10 miles off the coast could be producing electricity for just 8-10 cents a kilowatt hour, on par with current costs:

Building floating platforms on land and towing them to their deepwater locations will be much cheaper than erecting turbine towers on the sea floor, researchers say. Seabed turbines are common in Europe and are the preferred design for proposed wind farms in shallow waters off the East Coast of the United States.

These projections are part of an exhaustive study of the feasibility of offshore wind in Maine that’s aimed at energy developers around the world. The $1 million study, paid for by the federal Department of Energy, is meant to answer many questions that developers will have about whether it makes sense to invest in the Gulf of Maine…

This demonstration, with a total capacity of 25 megawatts, will be too small and experimental to produce market rate power, according to Habib Dagher, the UMaine professor overseeing the effort. But it will offer a chance for a developer to explore the potential of a commercial-scale project off the Maine coast around 2020.

Dagher and his associates are in touch with roughly four dozen companies around the world involved in offshore wind. The study, Dagher said, will save a prospective bidder years of research and millions of dollars. He is hopeful that the study’s detailed data will entice at least a couple of qualified developers to consider Maine over other locations where the potential for deepwater wind energy is being considered. “This will give Maine a major leg up,” he said.

Maine will test a 25-megawatt pilot floating offshore wind project off Monhegan Island with hopes of producing commercial-scale wind energy amounts by 2020.