Massachusetts gears up for offshore wind project bids

Dive Brief:

  • Three companies, including two from Denmark and one based in New England, are preparing to bid on offshore wind supply contracts for Massachusetts utilities that were mandated by the state.
  • Last year the state's legislature directed Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil, to acquire 1,600 MW of offshore wind by 2027, with the first 400 MW solicitation due by the end of June.
  • According to the Associated Press, three companies will be bidding on the contracts: Deepwater Wind, which recently began operating the Block Island wind farm offshore Rhode Island, and DONG Energy and Vineyard Wind, both based out of Denmark.

Dive Insight:

There is only one offshore wind farm operating in the United States, but the industry is preparing for rapid growth in New England.  

Deepwater, DONG Energy and Vineyard Wind have all won federal lease auctions for wind energy off Massachusetts'  Martha's Vineyard. But the news outlet says the companies are planning to develop a new clean energy sector rather than one-off projects.

In 2015, DONG announced plans to build a wind farm that could be as large as 1,000 MW, about 15 miles off the Massachusetts coast. Last year, the company sold a 50% ownership stake in the Bay State Wind project to Eversource.

Deepwater, which successfully completed the first operating offshore wind project in the United States, says the new Massachusetts project would beat it. Right now, the 30 MW Block Island Facility, operating off Rhode Island's coast, replaced the community's diesel generators and sends excess energy to the mainland through an undersea cable. 

While Deepwater Wind is already operating the Block Island facility, the new Massachusetts project would be much larger. The five-turbine, 30 MW Block Island farm is replacing the community's diesel generators, with excess generation sent to the mainland via an undersea cable. The farm will supply 1% of Rhode Island's electricity thanks to a power purchase agreement with National Grid.

As of last year, cumulative global offshore wind capacity was almost 12,000 MW and is on track to reach as much as 47,000 MW by 2020, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. More than 90% of offshore wind capacity has been built in waters off the coast of eleven European countries, says the Global Wind Energy Council.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables
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