March 28, 2012

Wind energy stalling in the U.S.?

Is $180 Million a sufficient kick in the pants?

Offshore wind is an enormous potential resource for the United States, with strong, consistent winds located in the Atlantic (especially off Virginia), Pacific, the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Estimated at more than 4,000 gigawatts, this renewable energy source should be part of the "all of the above" energy policy that we hear mentioned so often. And we'll hear more of it before the November elections.

So it's welcome news that the Energy Department will make up to $180 million available over six years to support up to four offshore wind demonstation projects, subject to congressional appropriations, including an initial commitment of $20 million in fiscal year 2012.

The Department will focus this latest research and demonstration initiative on highly innovative technologies that will achieve large cost reductions over existing offshore wind technologies. The demonstrations will help address key challenges associated with installing utility-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes.

Letters of intent are due on March 30 and applications are due on May 31, 2012. Will Virginia apply for a bit of this incentive?

Yesterday's announcement about a major wine turbine prototype in the Chesapeake Bay is promising. Click here for the whole story in the Daily Press. If this partnership between Newport News Shipbuilding and Spanish firm Gamesa is really operational by late 2013, I'll be the first to cheer. But I'm still waiting for the mega-wind project Cape Wind off Cape Cod.