- The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will auction 742,000 acres off the south coast of Massachusetts for offshore wind development in January, the Hill reports.
- The auction will be the largest of the five conducted by BOEM for prospective ocean wind developers. The site, to be sold in four separate blocks, has the potential to produce 5 gigawatts of electricity, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study. Previous auctions offered ocean wind development off the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland and Virginia.
- Twelve developers qualified to participate in the January auction after legal, technical and financial evaluations: Deepwater Wind, EDF Renewable, Energy Management, Fishermen’s Energy, Green Sail Energy, Iberdrola Renewables, NRG Bluewater Wind, OffshoreMW, RES Americas, Sea Breeze Energy, US Mainstream Renewable Power, and U.S. Wind.
The biggest challenge for developers at the Massachusetts sites will be working in water depths of between 35 meters and 65 meters, according to the NREL study. But the average wind speeds there promise capacity factors of between 45% and 47%.
The 30 megawatt Block Island project, expected to go into construction next year in state-owned waters off the coast of Rhode Island, will likely be the first U.S. offshore wind project to go online.
The 468 megawatt Cape Wind project, which has been under development for 12 years in federal waters off Cape Cod, was granted its site before competitive bidding was established. It is scheduled to go into construction late in 2015 and will likely be the first U.S. utility-scale offshore wind project.
“This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.