News roundup: U.S. offshore's Big Mo, surviving Maine winters, and a new JV

21 January 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

After a long weekend, we start the week with great news from the world of offshore wind power, including highlights from Cape Wind, UMaine’s pilot offshore project, and energy giants Areva and Gamesa.

Cape Wind’s Jim Gordon expects offshore wind power to take off in the U.S., with the Massachusetts project serving as an example of what clean energy can do for the Commonwealth and the country:

  • “The first offshore wind farm built in U.S. waters will be a catalyst for launching this industry and will increase the speed by which the other first projects are built. The Federal Government and the States also have a role to play to incentivize commercial investment in offshore wind…  States can follow Massachusetts' lead and enact energy policies that recognize the unique benefits that offshore wind provides to help build a market for these 'first mover' projects.”
  • “The first way to reduce costs is to build the first U.S. projects and have them operate successfully; this track record will reduce financing costs for future projects. Scale and standardization will both be important factors in reducing costs long term. Just as the cost of onshore wind turbines and solar panels have fallen with the build out of these industries, the same will be true of offshore wind. Manufacturers can also increasingly standardize offshore turbines and foundations to further drive down cost.”

Maine’s own pilot offshore project, run by the University of Maine, has seen some tough weather since its installation in June, inspiring confidence in the project’s ability to weather stormy New England:

  • “The University of Maine's (UMaine) Advanced Structures and Composites Center notes that its small-scale, floating offshore wind turbine prototype off the coast of Maine has survived harsh winter storms and weather. According to an Associated Press report, the center is now confident that full-scale versions of the technology will fare well if and when they are deployed.”
  • “According to the AP report, the Composites Center’s Habib Dagher said the 1:8 prototype’s ability to withstand big waves and high winds illustrates the viability of the larger-scale turbines.”
  • “‘We feel very confident now that we have something we can build that will survive a 100-year storm in the state of Maine,’ said Dagher. ‘So am I worried about the 'perfect storm' coming in and wiping out offshore wind farms? No, I'm not. I think we're in good shape.’”

Areva and Gamesa, big names in the energy (and wind energy) world, have announced that they will pursue a partnership on offshore development, PennEnergy reports:

  • “The offshore market represents one of the most promising areas for the development of renewable energies, particularly in the coastal countries of northern Europe, where the installed base should reach over 25 GW by 2020, and in Asia. By joining forces, AREVA and GAMESA will enable the JV to become one of the leading players in the global offshore wind market, contributing to the development of this growing sector…”
  • "From its launch, the JV will enjoy the confidence of numerous customers, including Iberdrola, which selected the M5000 turbine for its offshore farms near Saint-Brieuc in France, and Wilkinger in Germany. The JV will fulfill existing industrial development commitments both in the UK and France, that have up until now been led by AREVA, which notably include the creation of a turbine assembly and blades manufacturing plants at Le Havre and the implementation of a network of sub-contractors and partners."
  • “‘By choosing to create a European offshore wind champion with GAMESA, AREVA is playing a key role in the consolidation, already underway, of the offshore wind sector, and confirms its long-term commitment to renewable energies,’ declared Luc Oursel, President and CEO of AREVA.”

Sources:

Julia Goddard, “Offshore Wind Momentum Building in the US.” Renewable Energy World. 17 January 2014.

Staff, “Maine Offshore Wind Prototype Stands Up To Tough Winter Conditions.” North American Windpower. 20 January 2014.

Editorial staff, “AREVA, GAMESA to form offshore wind joint-venture company.” PennEnergy. 20 January 2014.