Getting the US offshore


March 22, 2013

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Wow. In the past seven days – and just when we were all looking the other way – US offshore wind has come screaming back into the limelight. And if not centre stage, then certainly somewhere close.

It all started sedately enough, following confirmation from Cape Wind that it had signed terms with The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (BTMU) for its debt financing.

As part of the deal, BTMU agreed to provide, “…a significant amount of debt capital…” to help bankroll the 468MW initiative.

The Cape Wind project is due to enter construction before the end of 2013 and has already suffered many delays.

But that was just the start.

For in New York State both Fishermen’s Energy and Energy Management Inc (known as EMI and the developer for Cape Wind) have now filed expressions of interest in building out a project at Rockaway Beach.

The two companies, that were responding to a request for interest published by the US government earlier in the year, are vying for a triangular patch of water, wedged between two shipping lanes and located 13 miles from the coast.

And while EMI has been quick to demonstrate the sheer size and scale of its proposed development (600MW, with individual turbines of up to 6MW each), Fishermen’s Energy has been far more guarded – holding back its precise plans.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, five companies have expressed an interest in three possible areas of federal water that have been set aside for wind development.

EDF, Apex Offshore and Green Sails Energy have all collectively expressed an interest in each of the three sites, as has Fishermen’s Energy. A company called Dominion Resources has also expressed an interest in one of the three sites.

And finally, to Virginia. Not to be outdone, the US Government has provided the state with confirmation that there’s no competitive interest to complicate access to an area chosen by the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy for a wind research station and meteorological mast.

All in all, these are promising signs. And collectively, this marks a significant step for a market that’s been in danger of stalling, following increasing reports of needless legislative hurdles and insurmountable red tape.

For the financiers, investors and consultancy’s and project teams that have already committed significant resource to the market this is welcome news. And given this recent market surge, expect a flurry of activity over coming weeks and months, as the market looks to make up for lost ground.

Just nobody mention transmission. Or indeed, that small challenger of shale gas.

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