The date is not etched in stone, but Deepwater Wind hopes to build the first U.S. offshore wind farm near Rhode Island, possibly replacing the energy generating capacity of nuclear power plants.
The privately held U.S. wind power developer plans to begin construction of the $205 million, 30-megawatt Block Island project in 2013 or 2014. If so, this farm will begin operations before an offshore farm proposed by Cape Wind – initially listed as this nation’s first offshore facility, Deepwater’s CEO, William Moore, said in an interview with Reuters.
The energy generated by the Block Island project will be enough to power about 10,000 homes in Rhode Island. The company is planning other projects off the Atlantic Coast as well, with three 1,000-meagawatt projects currently in the works – capable of generating electricity for some 350,000 homes.
“In order to get a competitive cost level, we need to get to scale, which means 750 to 1,000 MW, and at that size you are better off trying to sell into multiple markets,” Moore said.
While Cape Wind still expects its 420-MW project in Massachusetts to be the nation’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm, Deepwater hopes the smaller Block Island wind farm will help led the way to bigger projects.
As for the future of nuclear power in the area, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated he hopes to shut the 2,065-MW Indian Point nuclear power plant in 2013 and 2015 when its two reactors’ operating licenses expire, at a time when Cape Wind proposes a 1,000-MW offshore wind project near New York City, even though it may not be ready by the time the reactors cease operating.
In the meantime, Entergy, owner of the nuclear plant, has indicated it wants the reactors to run for another 20 years and will seek new operating licenses. There is little doubt plenty will be heard on the subject of nuclear reactor safety in the coming months.
At the same time, offshore wind power developers face some obstacles to their clean energy planning, the biggest ones being the higher cost compared to natural gas and the lack of continuous wind. On the positive side of the ledger, wind as an energy source is very sustainable.
Photos: Deepwater Wind