November 27, 2023
by Lori Valigra
High interest rates related to inflation in the nascent offshore wind market were one of the factors that caused Danish wind developer Orsted to cancel two projects under development off New Jersey in late October.
In early November, U.K. lawmakers said they are considering raising subsidies for new offshore wind developments to meet climate goals because costs have risen so sharply, 40 percent by some accounts, according to The Guardian.
Projects elsewhere are moving ahead into installation or contracting phases, noted Dan Burgess, director of Mills’ energy office, said. Maine released a roadmap for offshore wind earlier this year with strategies for the state to get economic, energy and climate benefits.........................
The offshore wind industry is new, with supply chain issues already affecting established wind developers like Orsted. Things could get even tighter as the industry expands.
“Trying to scale up a new industry quickly can create supply chain issues,” Habib Dagher, executive director at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and the researcher behind the university’s experimental offshore wind turbines, said.
Maine’s approach to offshore wind — building football-field long hulls to steady the tall blade structures at an onshore port — takes a lot of the risk away from shipping large components to assemble at sea.
Identifying a terrestrial port able to handle the large parts is critical to building them more efficiently and less expensively, James Gillway, Searsport’s town manager and a former Republican legislator, said.
Searsport is home to two locations being considered for the port: Mack Point and Sears Island. Gillway also is a member of the Offshore Wind Port Advisory Group, which is studying the feasibility of such a port.
Scotland uses three different ports to assemble the turbines, which is more expensive, he said. Still, a 100-acre space will be needed for the laydown yard and assembly to build the core bases for the turbines.
Gillway sees the port as a plus, because it may help reduce Searsport’s tax burden and bring several hundred jobs. Not everyone sees it that way.
Fishermen and local residents both have pushed back against turbine development for aesthetic and business reasons.
Lobstermen have worried that the turbines could harm the ecosystem and threaten their livelihood, while Friends of Sears Island have worried that a port there would overdevelop land and create nuisances such as lights being on all night. A recent meeting in Belfast showed off the wide group of skeptics from conservative Republicans to tribal officials..................................
Billions up front
It will cost up to $10 billion to get the planned 3,000 megawatts of power for Maine, UMaine’s Dagher said.
That may be a lot for some to stomach at once. However, he noted that consumers spend some $6 billion annually on heating oil and natural gas, meaning the investment should pay for itself quickly....................
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