Three offshore wind-energy producers have received the nod from the U.S. Dept. of Energy to construct demonstration projects off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The projects, which will receive up to $47 million each in DOE funds, were among seven projects selected in December 2012 to receive $4 million each to demonstrate design, engineering and permitting for their offshore wind-power proposals. The three selected projects now will focus on siting, construction and installation, aiming for commercial operation by 2017.
Principle Power Inc., Seattle, will construct the sole West Coast project, WindFloat Pacific, which has an estimated cost of $200 million. It will consist of five 6-MW direct-drive wind turbines and a 132-kV transmission cable to land. The turbines will be installed on a floating support structure about 18 miles off Coos Bay, Ore., in water 350 meters deep. Principle has patented the design under the name WindFloat. A WindFloat prototype with a single 2-MW wind turbine, installed in 2011 off Portugal, has successfully demonstrated the design. The entire unit will be constructed, assembled and commissioned onshore and towed to the site, making heavy-lift equipment at sea unnecessary, says Kevin Banister, Principle's vice president and project manager.