Offshore Wind

Is the UK’s Surge into Offshore Wind a Glimpse of Things to Come?

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — It’s a great example of how regulation can lead to innovation. When the UK government took the surprising move of first ending subsides for onshore wind and then banning new development outright, it raised howls of protest from environmental groups, among others, as a step backwards in the march to a clean energy future.

Few could have anticipated that, only a short time later, the UK would become the world leader in offshore wind. A precipitous drop in costs, along with a strong determination to not lose ground on the renewables front, has led to a point where the Hornsea project, capable of powering one million homes, has come in at a cost of £57.50 ($76) per MW, a price that is competitive with natural gas in the US.

Danish Oil and Natural Gas (DONG), which is now, as a sign of the times, changing its name to Ørsted, in honor of Hans Christian Ørsted, the Danish physicist who first discovered the relationship between magnetic fields and electric currents, the principle at the heart of wind turbines, was instrumental in achieving these prices. Their Hornsea project 2, will cover some 185 square miles.

There is a great deal of excitement around these developments. Paula Cocazza waxes poetic in a Guardian story Wild is the Wind, suggesting that wind power is, “the resource that could power the world.”

Construction Begins on America’s First Offshore Wind Farm

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, is only 48 miles long. However, it has 400 miles of coastline, which has been essential to its economy. As the nation searches for new, clean sources of energy, and while neighboring Massachusetts, has seen its Cape Wind offshore wind project mired in legal battles, the tiny Ocean State is quietly moving forward with a project of its own.

On July 26th, work began on the foundation structures for a small offshore wind farm off Block Island, which will likely be America’s first offshore wind farm to be completed. With a capacity of only 30 MW, it is tiny compared to the 8,759 MW of offshore wind currently installed around the world. Most of that is in Northern Europe. But then, that is tiny compared with the 369,597 MW of the total global wind production as of the end of 2014, more than 50,000 of which was just added last year. It’s also worth noting that nearly half of that new capacity went up in China.

The global offshore wind potential is enough to meet the entire current US electricity demand four times over. Unfortunately, right here in the US, the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) was allowed to expire last year, which has taken some of the wind out of the growing industry’s sails. A total of 1,994 MW was installed in the first half of this year, which is better than last year, but well below the pace set in 2012. Extension of the PTC, which has driven some $100 billion in private investment, was approved by the Senate Finance Committee in July, but still awaits the approval of the full Congress.

Offshore Wind Surges: China’s Along for the Ride, Will America Join the Party?

"If passed, this bill would help transition America off fossil fuels, stimulate a new manufacturing sector and put people back to work." -- Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director, Oceana

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