At offshore consortium, $7M is blowing in the wind

There she blows: The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium is offering up to $7 million for innovative offshore wind technologies that address specific concerns.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A syndicate of offshore-wind leaders from around the region, the nation and the world is looking to energize the path to sustainability with a hefty funding drive.

The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium this week announced the availability of up to $7 million in research-and-development funding, part of its “first comprehensive solicitation for offshore wind-technology projects.”

The seven-figure stipend marks “an important step in advancing the long-term strategy for identifying innovative technology to further drive down costs of offshore wind development in the United States,” according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, one of several regional and international entities represented on the consortium’s Board of Directors.

According to NYSERDA, the consortium is seeking proposals that deliver “significant reductions” in the lifetime costs of offshore-wind operations “while overcoming domestic market challenges in offshore-wind technology.” Proposals must address one of several specific “challenge areas,” ranging from cost reductions to power-system design to turbine performance and control.

Funded primarily by a $20.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the consortium boasts an international mix of researchers, utilities and commercial enterprises, all of whom are well-positioned to help innovative offshore-wind technologies advance both domestically and globally.

Robert Catell: Fast wind.

In addition to NYSERDA and a host of domestic offshore-wind companies from Virginia, Massachusetts and elsewhere, the Board of Directors includes representatives of National Grid, the global renewable-energy consultant Renewables Consulting Group and multiple U.S. national laboratories.

Also on board is an international assortment of contributors including Norwegian energy company Equinor, Denmark-based power giant Ørsted and EDF Renewables, a North American subsidiary of the French energy innovator EDF Group.

And in there punching with the big boys is Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, which is impressed with the consortium’s ambition and alacrity so far, according to AERTC Chairman Robert Catell, a former KeySpan and National Grid chairman.

“This initial solicitation is an important step in moving ahead with the technical improvements that are going to be necessary to reduce the long-term cost of offshore wind and ensure it will be an important component of meeting our long-term energy goals,” Catell noted. “It is very encouraging that we have been able to move so quickly.”

Alicia Barton, NYSERDA’s president and CEO, agreed that advancing the consortium’s Research and Development Roadmap – which identifies three core R&D pillars to be addressed through solicitations and awarded projects over the next four years – is the best way to advance “the burgeoning national offshore wind industry.”

“Private-public partnerships and state-to-state collaborations are critical to achieving New York’s nation-leading clean-energy and climate agenda,” Barton said in a statement. “Today’s announcement reaffirms the consortium’s commitment to reduce costs, address development barriers and move forward collectively to advance responsible development of offshore wind in the Northeast and United States as a whole.”