Hywind demo unit being towed out to sea.

Statoil seeks US lease off Maine for pilot Hywind floater project

Statoil’s North America unit has submitted a commercial lease application to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for waters off the US state of Maine, where it hopes to deploy four “optimised” versions of its Hywind floating wind turbine.

Water depths are 460 to 520 feet (140 to 158 metres) in the 22.2sq mile (57.5sq km) area in the Atlantic Ocean which is 13.8 miles (22.2km) from the nearest land area. Statoil expects the final size to be 2.32 to 3.86sq miles.

 

Some details of the Statoil demonstration project were discussed on Thursday at a meeting of federal and state officials in the city of Portland, Maine. The company is also considering a site off the coast of Scotland.

 

“Statoil intends to build upon the Hywind Demo experience, expand economies of scale, and further optimise the Hywind technological concept through installation and operation of a multi-turbine offshore wind park that incorporates larger turbine units,” the application says. Statoil uses a 2.3MW Siemens turbine on the Hywind demo.

 

The application is in response to a September 2010 request by the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) for proposals for one or more deepwater offshore pilot wind energy or tidal energy demonstration projects. The agency set a 5MW carve-out for tidal energy within a maximum 30MW for both technologies.

 

MPUC officials declined to discuss how many proposals were tendered before the 1 May deadline this year, who submitted them, or whether any were for tidal energy. It will require any winning proposal to be built and operational within five years of the date a contract is finalised.

 

In its BOEM application, Statoil says it is currently negotiating with the MPUC staff over terms and conditions for a contract(s) to sell the output of the Hywind Maine project to designated utilities in the state.

 

It also presents a lengthy list of credentials to make a case for approval. These include its status as the world’s largest deepwater oil and gas operator, having commissioned the world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine in September 2009, and having developed the UK 315MW Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm.

 

Maine has taken a political decision to become a global leader in offshore wind technology development, which is being spearheaded by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center . The center’s Offshore Wind Laboratory is developing a prototype one-third scale wind turbine that it will test in July 2012 off Monhegan Island in federal waters.

 

Maine is the only US state with offshore wind energy plans that will rely exclusively on floating turbines, in recognition that water depths off its coast preclude use of existing foundation technology or substructure concepts proposed for development this decade.

 

The university heads the DeepCWind Consortium , a public-private group whose mission is to establish Maine as a leader in deepwater wind technology through a research initiative funded by the US Energy Department, the National Science Foundation and others.

 

It includes universities, nonprofits, and utilities, plus companies that specialise in marine construction, design and structures, composite materials to assist in corrosion-resistant material design and selection, and environmental law and analysis.

 

The consortium’s goal is for Maine to generate 5GW of power by 2030 with floating turbines.

 

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