This is an excerpt from the First Quarter 2012 edition of the Wind Program Newsletter.

Turbines in U.S. Waters Will Soon Spin Wind into Electricity

DOE releases Offshore Demonstration Project Solicitation

Offshore wind turbine being construced on a dock construction site. Construction cranes, part of a boat and the ocean can be seen in the background. Enlarge image

Construction of offshore wind turbines on floating platforms, such as the turbine pictured above, will create hundreds of new jobs in coastal communities.
Photo courtersy of Principle Power.

Approximately 75,000 Americans are currently employed by the U.S. wind energy industry, and that's solely for projects on land. Imagine what will happen to job growth in this sector as massive turbines with innovative designs are fabricated on land and installed by ships well out to sea and in the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Wind Program is committed to helping industry realize the potential of the nation's vast offshore wind energy resources. Offshore wind development is already occurring on the global stage and presents a golden opportunity for America's wind industry to join with the maritime and traditional offshore oil and gas industries in creating projects, products, and jobs that enable the United States to compete internationally in the North American, European, and Asian offshore wind markets. To achieve these goals, DOE is joining forces with other federal and state government agencies, international partners, industry, technology leaders, and the interested public to address the many challenges faced in capturing the offshore wind resource potential.

In 2010, DOI introduced Smart from the Start, an initiative to establish areas for potential offshore wind energy development and transmission. In 2011, DOE and DOI released a joint National Strategy that outlines how each agency will collaborate to refine the permitting process (led by DOI) and address technology, cost, and market challenges (led by DOE).  Pursuant to the National Strategy, DOE committed more than $50 million dollars to accelerate offshore market barrier removal (22 projects; $16.5 million) reduce the cost of energy through technology innovation and testing (19 projects; $26.5 million), and develop next-generation drivetrain technologies (6 projects; $7.5 million). Additional investments by DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are providing a domestic testing infrastructure for offshore wind turbine blades ($25 million) and drivetrains ($45 million).

These projects address two of the three major National Strategy initiatives and will make important advances in socioeconomic research, infrastructure development, and next generation offshore wind technology modeling. DOE's plans for the third major strategic effort—advanced offshore wind technology demonstration projects—were announced at a presolicitation public meeting in Washington D.C. on February 7th. More than 150 representatives from  industry, federal agencies, and the public participated in the fourm to discuss the upcoming funding opportunities. The goal of the third effort is to expedite development and deployment of innovative offshore wind energy systems with the potential for lowering the cost of energy.

DOE's advanced offshore wind technology demonstration effort is an important step in realizing an energy future where offshore turbines convert wind into power at reduced costs, world-class designs for offshore plants are refined for specific geographic regions, and the public is familiar with the sustainable economic and energy benefits of offshore wind technology. Demonstration projects will be considered from all geographic regions, water depths, and technology areas.  All performance, engineering, operations, and cost data gathered by efforts supported under this funding opportunity will be used by DOE to further the existing knowledge base for the benefit of the wind industry.

The Wind Program is dedicated to realizing the enormous offshore wind power potential of the United States and empowering Americans to innovate, design, and deploy wind turbines at sea. Developing our nation's offshore wind resource will strengthen the U.S. economy while increasing the percentage of domestically produced clean energy that helps to diversify and secure our nation's energy portfolio.

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