The Department of Energy’s (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has signed a $27 million, multi-year contract with General Electric (GE) to develop a new offshore wind power system over the next several years. The DOE will provide about $8 million for the project, which was announced on March 9th. The goal of the project is to design, fabricate, and test an offshore wind turbine that could produce power at a cost of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, about half the current cost.
GE expects the turbine to produce 5 MW to 7 MW of power, nearly double the capacity of GE's largest commercial wind turbine. The advanced wind system will include innovative foundations, construction techniques, rotor designs, and drivetrains, as well as electrical components designed for the harsh offshore environment. Offshore wind power installations could benefit populated U.S. coastal regions with high energy prices.
A number of European wind turbine manufacturers are developing similar large offshore wind turbines. REPower, a German company, has been operating a 5-MW wind turbine at an onshore test site for more than a year, and plans to install two turbines off the Scottish coast this summer. The Engineering Business Limited (EB) will supply barge-mounted equipment to install the wind turbines fully assembled, at a location 23 miles from shore where the ocean is about 150 feet deep. Meanwhile, Enercon GmbH, another German company, has developed a 6-MW wind turbine prototype, while Vestas Wind Systems A/S, a Danish company, plans to market a 4.5-MW wind turbine by 2009.
For more information, see http://www.eere.energy.gov