Ten companies have expressed interest in developing wind farms in a large swath of federal waters off the coast of Massachusetts that is considered to be the biggest offshore wind planning area along the Eastern Seaboard, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEA) announced on Monday.
The proposals total 13,000 megawatts of wind energy, though many of them overlap, according to a statement from the EOEA. The Commonwealth estimates that eventually, developers will install turbines capable of producing up to 4,000 megawatts of power in the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area, which covers 1,200 square miles of federal waters, and begins nearly 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. That would be enough electricity to power 1.7 million households and would equal the current output of all the coal-fired power plants in Massachusetts.
“These are opportunities to seize,” said Governor Deval Patrick, in a statement. “Every state along the East Coast is working to develop offshore wind, but they are all competing for second place, because Massachusetts will be first.”
The planning area’s boundaries were drawn via a partnership between the BOEM and the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force – an interagency group of federal, state, tribal, and local elected officials.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) aims to have 54,000 megawatts of wind energy deployed offshore by 2030, at a cost of 7-9 cents per kilowatt-hour, with an interim target of 10,000 megawatts at 13 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020. DOE projects that 43,000 jobs will be created in the offshore wind industry by 2020.
Earlier this year, BOEM issued a Call for Information and Nominations, the first phase under U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s “Smart from the Start” offshore wind energy initiative. It allows BOEM to identify priority areas for potential wind energy development, and promotes an informed siting and permitting process for offshore wind projects.
Massachusetts is already home to Cape Wind, the nation’s first offshore wind project, which is expected to generate 468 megawatts of electricity and create approximately 1,000 clean energy jobs when it comes online. State officials are also promoting a cluster of offshore wind industries, including a Wind Technology Testing Center in Charlestown, considered the world’s largest wind blade testing facility and the only one capable of testing the next generation of blades, according to the EOEA. The center was funded with a U.S. DOE stimulus grant and is operated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.
Other development includes the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, expected to be the first facility in the country designed for the assembly, staging and construction of offshore, renewable projects, and Mass Tank, which plans to manufacture the foundation monopoles and other structural steel components for offshore wind turbines. In addition, global wind company Siemens has located its North American offshore wind headquarters in Boston, and American Superconductor, a Massachusetts based company, is working to develop a 10 megawatt wind turbine.