We’ve got a couple exciting bits of news for you today about offshore wind power.
First up: the nation’s first offshore wind farm is slowly moving closer to reality. Cape Wind, a proposed 400+ MW wind farm off the coast of the Nantucket Sound, has entered into power purchase talks with National Grid, a major utility in New England. This is an important step for the troubled project and signals that progress is being made, however slowly.
The project is hoping to qualify for the Depart of Energy cash grants offered in President Obama’s stimulus bill. In order to receive the grant—equal to 30% of a project’s costs—the wind farm will need to begin operating in 2012. Ian Bowles, Massachusetts’ energy and environment secretary, describes Cape Wind as “the only offshore wind project that has any possibility of being built in President Obama’s first term.”
Switching focus to a different part of the world where offshore wind is more than just a vision of the future, nine European nations have banded together to create a “supergrid” in the North Sea to aid transmission from offshore wind farms and supply electricity to the mainland. According to the European Wind Energy Association, 100 GW (yes, gigawatts) of offshore wind in the North Sea are in the planning stages. That would be enough electricity to power roughly 10% of the entire European Union.
The agreement to build the supergrid took place at the Copenhagen climate summit yesterday in Denmark. Coincidentally, Denmark already gets 4.5% of its electricity from offshore wind farms. The Danes know how to get it done.