Photo Courtesy of Principle Power
Latest round of DOE funds earmarked for siting, construction and installation.

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.

Deepwater Wind LLC, Providence, will be the developer and owner, and Principle the technology provider. "We are finalizing the agreement now," Banister says. Principle has completed 50% front-end engineering and design.

DOE awarded the $47-million grant to Dominion Virginia Power to help fund construction of a 12-MW demonstration project, consisting of two 6-MW direct-drive wind turbines on innovative substructures about 24 miles off Virginia Beach in 25 m of water. The export cable to shore will consist of a single three-core fiber-optic cable. Alstom Power Inc. will supply the turbines, and KBR is the engineer for project design and construction planning. Dominion is not releasing contract details or an estimated cost. "We will have firm cost estimates next year, after we competitively bid the project," says a spokesman.

Dominion's project will demonstrate installation, operation and maintenance methods for wind turbines located far from shore. It also will test a hurricane-resilient design. The substructure is an inward battered guide structure, or "twisted jacket" foundation, patented by Keystone Engineering Inc., Mandeville, La. The design has been used successfully on oil and gas platforms and withstood a direct hit by Hurricane Katrina, Keystone officials say.

DOE's third award is to Fishermen's Energy LLC for Fishermen's Atlantic City Wind project. This project, estimated at $188 million, will install five 5-MW direct-drive wind turbines in 10 m of water about three miles off shore.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities in March denied Fishermen's Atlantic City Wind project's application for an offshore wind renewable-energy certificate. This "is a rate proposal, determining how much the developer gets paid for each megawatt of power produced," says Rhonda Jackson, Fishermen's Energy spokeswoman. The company has appealed the BPU decision. "We hope the DOE's support will help in obtaining a resolution," she adds.