Around the world, wind turbines are creating clean electrical power to reduce the reliance of fossil fuel generation.
This growing trend involves the maritime domain
in several ways. Offshore wind requires specialized
construction techniques and vessels for construction
and maintenance. In addition, a significant amount
of wind-generation equipment arrives in the United
States by sea, and U.S. ports have managed the transshipments of these components from ships to trucks or
rail, or, in some cases, back to sea.
Offshore wind farms are popular in Europe, but they
have yet to catch on off of America’s coastline. That
may change as the first offshore wind farm, Deepwater
Wind off Block Island, R.I., now has “steel in the water”
and expects to soon be generating power. Construction
was completed on the project in mid-August.
Wind is a free resource, but it can be an expensive proposition to put it to work. There are many
challenges to developing wind energy, to include
construction, maintenance and operation, and are
compounded when in the maritime environment. The
turbines either are fixed to foundations in the water or
mounted on floating platforms tethered to the bottom.
Special underwater cabling is required to connect the
turbines to the power grid ashore.
A variety of vessels are required
for construction and maintenance.
But there are no fuel costs for wind
energy, nor does it consume water
“We have a substantial resource
out there. It is worth developing.
It will add to the energy diversity
that we have as a nation,” said Jim
Bennett, chief of renewable energy
programs for the Bureau of Offshore
Energy Management. “And as long
as it’s in the realm of economic viability, it’s worth pursuing. There are
also obvious environmental benefits related to carbon
reduction and replacement of fossil fuels.”
Bennett said the wind industry can leverage the
experience and expertise from the oil and gas industry.
“We’ve had the better part of a century with structures in the Gulf of Mexico in the oil and gas industry,”
he said, “particularly from an engineering standpoint,
where we’ve made tremendous strides on that front.
And a lot of that technology is transferrable to wind.
“Offshore wind energy is becoming more and more
viable and economical, and is an industry that can
provide something very substantial to the nation and
to our energy mix,” Bennett said. “The technology is
changing through the execution of pilot projects, experience in Europe and other developments.”
The Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement
Project is a development project supporting offshore
wind generation, to be located about 27 miles from shore
off the southeastern corner of Virginia. The demonstration project will consist of two 6-megawatt turbines and
innovative foundations to generate 12 megawatts of
power connected to the grid ashore.
“It’s a research project. It’s not going to make any
profit. But it will certainly provide information that
will be very useful,” Bennett said.
In the Energy Mix
New business for maritime industry is in the wind
By EDWARD LUNDQUIST, Special Correspondent
Fledgling Power Source
Offshore wind farms are popular in Europe, but are just beginning
to emerge off of America’s coastlines.
n Wind energy is becoming more viable and economical, and can
contribute to America’s energy mix.
n Just as with offshore oil and gas, a specialized maritime capability is needed for generation of offshore wind energy.
n Some ports are finding that outsized wind shipments are big