Published on June 8, 2020 |
by Tina Casey
June 8, 2020 by Tina Casey
File this one under W what else can President * Trump lose? The nation’s best underground bunker inspector entered the Oval Office with a promise to cut jobs in the coal industry, and then refuel the US coal industry in less than four years. It’s a pretty interesting legacy for the world’s biggest fossil fuel fan, but the worst is yet to come as a new offshore wind initiative accelerates under his nose.
The National Offshore Wind Research & Development Corporation
The offshore offshore wind industry started with great ambition and a generous dose of adrenaline from the Obama administration, and then sank under the weight of political considerations (looking at you, Chris Christie).
When Obama left office, the US offshore industry was in a slump. To date, there is still only one offshore wind farm in operation in American waters, with five turbines totaling only 20 megawatts.
For comparison, check out Scotland – it already has nearly 1 gigawatt under its belt and another 4 gigawatts in the pipeline, including a 1.14 gigawatt offshore project that could be operational as early as 2022.
So it’s with some irony that the American offshore wind industry has made up for lost time throughout the Trump administration, with considerable help from its own Department of Energy.
A key step in the rise of wind power occurred during Trump’s very first year in office, when the Department of Energy decided to create something called the National Offshore Wind Research And Development Consortium. In 2018, the nonprofit was operational under the leadership of New York State, which is continuing its ambitious offshore plan.
The offshore floating wind turbine revolution has arrived
My God, if Trump remains in office for four years, he will likely preside over the construction – and operation – of hundreds of offshore turbines. And many of them are probably not old offshore turbines.
The new Consortium already has an eye on offshore floating wind turbines. This is interesting because the United States has barely started using conventional fixed-platform turbines, and it already has an eye on advanced floating turbine technology.
Earlier this month, the Consortium released details of 12 awards for offshore wind R&D, and at least four of them directly deal with floating wind turbines. A fifth concerns semi-submersible technology. They are:
Demonstration of shallow water mooring components for FOWT (ShallowFloat), Principle Power, Inc.
Design and certification of stretched synthetic moorings for floating wind turbines, University of Maine
Dual function Inerter damper for an improved semi-submarine wind turbine, Virginia Tech University
Innovative anchor system for floating offshore wind, Triton Systems, Inc
Techno-economic mooring configuration and design for floating offshore wind, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Seal the beginning of the end for coal
If you caught this thing about Principle Power, it’s especially interesting because of the company’s long collaboration with the Department of Energy on floating wind turbine technology.
The University of Maine is also expected to appear on the radar for its R&D work leading to the formation of the floating wind company Aqua Ventus.
Last year, the University of Massachusetts obtained funding from the Department of Energy’s advanced research office ARPA-E for open source software to control offshore floating turbines.
Triton Systems is a diverse, state-of-the-art technology company making its way into renewable energy technology, so there you go.
If you have an idea of what’s going on with Virginia Tech, drop us a note in the comments thread.
All of which is to say that basic research today is preparing the US wind industry for rapid growth tomorrow, to the detriment of coal and natural gas as well.
In related news, now that wind development along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts is underway earlier this year, the Department of Energy has forecasted offshore wind development of up to 508 gigawatts in the Gulf of Mexico, so stay tuned for more.
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* History in development.
Photo: via Aqua Ventus.