The United States’ first offshore wind farm, Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm, hasn’t even begun generating electricity to the grid, but there is now news out there that suggests the country’s second offshore wind project could be developed in Lake Erie, one of North America’s five Great Lakes.
Bloomberg News has reported that the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LeedCo) is expecting to finalize a deal by the end with Fred. Olsen Renewables AS which would result in the construction of a 20.7 MW wind project built off the Ohio Lake Erie coast.
Speaking in an interview on Wednesday at the American Wind Energy Association Offshore Windpower conference held in Rhode Island — which we covered earlier this week — LeedCo President Lorry Wagner explained that “Building offshore wind on the Great Lakes is our best opportunity to generate clean energy locally.”
The project in question is LeedCo’s Icebreaker, a demonstration project we originally covered back in January of 2015, which will consist of six wind turbines of 3-4 MW. The $127 million project has already received a $40 million grant in May from the US Energy Department.
Lake Erie presents a fascinating opportunity for the United States, a country which has lagged behind in the offshore wind sector. With the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm only just nearing operation, there are several rumors as to what the next project will be — in July a 90 MW offshore wind farm was proposed for New York — with a lot of the attention focused towards the country’s coastline. However, as we reported back in January of 2015, Lake Erie presents a unique opportunity to develop offshore wind projects in freshwater situations — up to 50 GW in the Ohioan waters of Lake Erie alone.
This latest news, therefore, suggests that the reality of opening up Lake Erie’s waters to offshore wind development — far enough away from the coast where only the keenest eyes might spot something — is beginning.