With offshore wind energy poised to join the U.S. energy production mix, the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative (USOWC) recently released its Offshore WindHub, an information portal designed for stakeholders in this developing U.S. market.
Fara Courtney, USOWC executive director, believes that the first phase of the online resource will aid in the growth of the industry.
“The concept for having a place that’s basically a digital library of information about what’s happening in the offshore wind space in the U.S. at the state level, regionally, and at the federal level has been part of our thinking and something we wanted to do since the USOWC started,” Courtney said. “The states have been the drivers for the market in the policy arena, planning, finding financing mechanisms, and working more or less in isolation. There were a lot of lessons being learned, but it was hard to capture them.”
The Offshore WindHub provides users with regularly updated information related to policy, technology, economics, and regulatory and siting concerns from the state and federal levels. With potential U.S. project construction beginning next year, the Offshore WindHub will play an important role in tracking advances in the offshore wind industry.
According to Courtney, although the U.S. industry is very young, “a lot of ground has been covered.” She believes that it is important to capture the industry’s early history “before we get beyond it, so that we can keep learning and not re-doing things that have already been done.”
The initial phase of the Offshore WindHub focuses on the Atlantic coast and was funded through grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Future development phases are expected to include analytical tools and an overall site expansion as the industry grows and information needs are identified.
Courtney said that the first turbine in the water will be very important for the U.S. industry. “Not having any scale in American waters is a barrier for us right now. The next couple of years will be very important,” she said.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced funding to seven Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration projects totaling $168 million over 6 years.
For more information on: NREL