Good Summary of the MD Offshore Wind Blocks Auction

Here is a much better description of the just completed auction of offshore wind blocks off the MD coast than the description in my earlier post.  It’s not surprising that the winning bid went to a European-based company.

MD Governor Martin O’Malley is a strong supporter of offshore wind for his state, because he understands that a strong marine wind generation industry could revive the economy in Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay region.  Note also that MD has a real RPS.

In addition to federal support, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has promised a $1.7 billion, 20-year taxpayer subsidy for a 210-MW offshore wind farm at the site, the first subsidy created for a lease site. Once the project is commissioned, household electric rates will increase up to $1.50 per month and businesses will see a 1.5 percent monthly surcharge. The bill was signed into law after several years of debate, and coincides with Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which calls for 20 percent of its electricity to come from renewables by 2022. O’Malley hopes the law will not only help reduce emissions, but also boost the economy.

“We need a jobs agenda to match our climate challenge,” said O’Malley in a statement.  “Expanding renewable energy, like we’re doing here, will bring Maryland’s vision for clean energy one step closer to reality and clearly set our State apart on the country’s renewable energy landscape.”

The Renewable Energy World article also notes that the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold other lease auctions for offshore blocks in MA and NJ in the next year.

The article also provides a good summary of past auctions.  Note that New Bedford, MA, a formerly important port city, has already begun rebuilding its industrial infrastructure in anticipation of offshore wind power development.

Last year, BOEM held two offshore wind auctions. Deepwater Wind won the first auction for two parcels off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island with a $3.8 million bid. The 164,000-acre area holds an estimated 3.6 GW of potential. Dominion Virginia Power won the second auction for land 23 miles off the Virginia coast with a $1.6 million bid, which amounts to 2 GW of potential on 112,000 acres. BOEM also has a hand in facilitating the 454-MW Cape Wind project, which will likely be the first U.S. offshore wind farm, and the 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm, which is following close behind. Hoping to capitalize on these developments, the city of New Bedford, Massachusetts is constructing an offshore wind port to facilitate the construction and transportation of materials for the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Look especially at the capacity numbers in the paragraph above.  The estimated potential of the Deepwater Wind and Dominion blocks in New England and VA together totals 5.6 gigawatts.  That is serious generation capacity, all of it available right next to some of the most constrained regions of the US electrical grid.

How strong do you think the wind off the New England coast was blowing last January when New England was starving for power as natural gas plants couldn’t buy fuel and coal plants were shutting down because their coal piles were frozen?  Too bad that offshore wind capacity wasn’t available then.

5 thoughts on “Good Summary of the MD Offshore Wind Blocks Auction

  1. Great news Bill. I am a strong supporter of Martin O’Malley and his renewable energy policies. If we had just 30% of the incentives that Md. has WV would be so much better off and thriving in this new industry. WV lacks imagination when it comes to generating electricity, creating local economies, and caring for her citizenry. The reason a European company won the bid is because they are much better experienced and equipped at those kinds of projects than we are. Off-shore wind is where its at.

  2. Interesting article. My understanding from you is that there is tremendous offshore wind potential and it can be far enough out at sea to not interfere with bird migrations or other environmental concerns. Does 10 miles out qualify for this?
    The turbines would still be visible from the resort. I wouldn’t personally mind that, but is there still a danger of some organized opposition?

    • Ten miles out, a 300 foot high wind turbine is about the height of a fingernail when viewed from the beach. There are no migratory bird paths in North America on the continental shelf where offshore turbines will be sited. The projected impacts on birds are projected to be practically zero. Turbine piers have been shown to make excellent fish habitat in European wind farms.

      • Thanks for your prompt and helpful reply. I also think you’re spot on with your comment to the map showing the coal fields and the power company’s scheming…
        Other maps in your site show even better potential further north off our Atlantic coast and superb potential in the Pacific especially off the CA/OR border. Any chance these can happen in foreseeable future? What nonprofits are most effectively pushing for this?

      • While the wind resources are very good on the West Coast, there is no continental shelf as there is on the East Coast. Most current technologies require wind turbines to be attached to the bottom, so the East Coast is the only place where that is possible. There are new floating wind turbine technologies being developed that will lead to widespread deployment of wind turbines on the West Coast of North America and off the coasts of Japan.

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