Environment

Japanese bank to fund first U.S. offshore wind farm

Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen (Photo: Tony Moran/Shutterstock)
Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen (Photo: Tony Moran/Shutterstock)
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Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen (Photo: Tony Moran/Shutterstock)
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Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen (Photo: Tony Moran/Shutterstock)

Not having a section devoted to cures for insomnia, Gizmag tends to pass over press releases about investment agreements. Tuesday's announcement that the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) is to find somewhere in the order of US$ 2 billion for the Cape Wind is extremely interesting, however, as it means the U.S. should finally build its first offshore wind farm, with construction slated to commence before the year's end.

The Cape Wind project, which should now see the construction of some 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, a patch of the Atlantic Ocean to the south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The farm is expected to have an installed capacity (essentially the maximum theoretical output) of 468 MW. This would put the Cape Wind farm firmly up there with the largest offshore farms in existence, though several, much larger still, have been proposed for Northern Europe and East Asia.

It's claimed that Cape Wind will provide three quarters of the electricity demand of the Cape and Islands region of southeast Massachusetts. It's intended that the turbines will be located at Horseshoe Shoal, several miles off the Cape Cod coast. The project has already been signed off by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Strictly speaking, BTMU is facilitating debt for the $2.6 billion project, the actual investment likely to come from a variety of outside sources.

A report in Cape Cod Online suggests that Cape Wind isn't in the bag quite yet. Some $600 million in equity. Siemens Energy Inc., which will provide the turbines, and the U.S. Department of Energy are thought to be likely sources.

Sources: Cape Wind, Cape Cod Online

20 comments
Snake Oil Baron
I wonder if they have factored growing wind power skepticism into their plans. Pictures of generators which failed catastrophically and stories of maintenance issues, abandoned facilities, government subsidies, power blackouts/brownouts and other problems make a lot of people suspicious of using wind power, especially directly on an electrical grid.
Flipider Comm
A deep sea wind farm with stronger winds could supply enough power for the eastern part of New England. CT, MA, RI. NH.
LordInsidious
@Snake Oil Baron You make it sound like those issues don't occur on our existing power infrastructure. Wind power has been used for a lot longer and more reliably than burning things to make energy.
Flipider Comm
Vertical, non-directional systems are far more efficient and because prop-generators must operate only when wind speeds are right. The reality of disasters due to failure. www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqEccgR0q-o http://www.homebrewpower.co.uk/html-renewable-energy-failures/vestas-wind-turbine-fail.html
Scion
Flipider, the main problem with vertical axis wind turbines is the strain placed on the vertical axle which must resist spinning and shearing. That is the top of the turbine wants to bend back in the wind putting a curve through the rotating shaft. A more traditional turbine with a horizontal axis has much less strain through it and so can be made much larger and can deal with much higher wind speeds without wearing down or breaking. A vertical system is excellent for low wind, small total output where the distance between the top and the bottom of the rotating column is small. In the open ocean, the wind speed is very high. Total reliability could be seen as more important than maximum power output over the largest range of wind conditions.
Ron Huber
@LordInsidious wrote "Wind power has been used for a lot longer..." How about that last million years of using _fire_ to produce energy for heat light and cooking? Rather a long time before windpower was used for more than sniffing for food or predators But I AM in favor of ocean windpower. Simply not the primitive dunce-in-the-corner version that Cape Wind's investors propose. Check plans for the waters off Maine if you want to see what state of the art ocean windmillery is all about. Hint: floatingt deepwater windmills mean you can always say "Oops this is a bad spot after all. Let's move our windfarm forty mills east" By comparison Cape Wind's stick-in-the-mud tech means that if it turns out to be a poor location, say only revving up 20% of what was hoped, or knocking off half the migrating puffins, why, tough!. Those puppies aren't going anywhere. Not without a demolition permit. Massachusetts needs to look further offshore. Check out deepcwind.org for the UMaine-led project, or google: "Hywind Maine" for the Statoil version - norwegian investors that agree: Float your turbines!
Bruce Miller
And now for the big secret: Americans driving electric cars likened to the Chreos but from China, with hemp fibre bodies, light weight, no less, using nano carbon (or better) super capacitors (You Google you see) with Energy Storage Density approaching or exceeding that of gasoline. - all ballasting the fluctuations of the Wind Turbines even increasing their efficiency numbers, even absorbing off peak power production from coal, hydro, nuclear, sources for high demand times uses, even making Solar, Wave, Tidal, all more practical electric sources? This is the transition.
Clay Jones
As long as the American taxpayer isn't paying for this, I say go for it. I have no interest in sending my money to a project that will save someone else some money on their electric bill.
moreover
I'm all in favor of American taxpayers (or taxpayers anywhere) paying for this and other alternative energy ventures. For one, it's only money, no need to idolize money. More importantly, it's simply part of very very necessary R & D which is always a mix of risk and reward. Finally, in the US the bloody oil and coal industry not only has their gargantuan profits to play with but also taxpayer money in the form of huge subsidies and tax breaks no other industry gets. So enough already with the tired "taxpayer" mantra and let's get on with creating an energy future on a lower carbon budget. There is very little time.
LordInsidious
@Ron Huber while it is true we have been using fire longer for cooking and heating, I was talking about (and should have been clearer) using energy for mechanical processes, specifically windmills for irrigation, milling grain and other industrial applications. While the rest of your post was interesting I would rather a this wind farm setup as step towards the mobility and flexibility you talked about, instead of another coal burning power plant. Something movable that does both wind and water turbines would of course be the bees knees.
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