Following the disappointment that was (and is) the Cape Wind project off Cape Cod, many had doomed the American offshore wind industry to deep water, but Deepwater Wind has just announced that it has fully financed the Block Island Wind Farm, set to be developed in Rhode Island.
The news came on Monday that Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm had been fully financed, reaching financial close on more than $290 million in project financing from Mandated Lead Arrangers Societe Generale of Paris, France, and KeyBank National Association of Cleveland, Ohio. This announcement completes the necessary debt and equity funding needed to construct and operate the project.
The Block Island Wind Farm, upon completion, will be a 30 MW project, and is set to be completed and in service by the end of 2016, making it the country’s first offshore wind farm.
“We’re ecstatic to reach financial close and thrilled to be partners with Societe Generale and KeyBank for this groundbreaking clean energy project,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “We’re full speed ahead and moving ever closer to ‘steel in the water.’”
Construction is already under way, with the project’s foundations under fabrication by Gulf Island Fabrication, and Alstom, who is set to supply five Haliade 150 6 MW offshore wind turbines, has already completed fabrication of all 15 blades.
All five foundations are set to be installed off the Block Island coast this summer.
“We are on the cusp of bringing offshore wind from theory to reality in the U.S. We’re incredibly proud of our position at the forefront of the U.S. offshore wind industry,” Grybowski said. “We’ve brought together some of the best American and European expertise to build an outstanding project and finance team. We’re poised to launch a new American clean-tech industry, and it all starts here with our work on the Block Island Wind Farm.”
We first heard about the Block Island Wind Farm back in February of 2014, at which point it was announced it would be the first step on the way to a 1,000 MW utility-sized Deepwater Wind Energy Center offshore development.
And despite the failure that seems to be surrounding the Cape Wind project, research has shown that America’s potential offshore wind energy industry is staggering. The Lake Erie Development Corporation suggest that the US has a projected 4,223 GW worth of offshore wind generating potential — that’s not a typo, 4,223 gigawatts, with 50 GW from the Ohio waters of Lake Erie alone.
But as Lake Erie notes, “the U.S. lags woefully behind the rest of the world in offshore wind power generation.”
It is possible that Block Island could kick start the country’s industry in a way that Cape Wind had been attempting, given its smaller size and greater potential for future development. However, government backing and concrete policy will be necessary if the US offshore wind industry is to get off the ground … or off the waters, so to speak.
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