Today marks the deadline for applicants to submit letters of intent to the U.S. Department of Energy seeking funding for offshore wind energy development. On March 1, 2012, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced a six-year $180 million initiative to deploy offshore wind projects in U.S. waters. Subject to congressional appropriations, this program includes $20 million available this year to support up to four innovative offshore wind energy installations across the United States.
The U.S. Department of Energy believes that the U.S. is rich in offshore wind resources. Some reports have identified over 4,000 gigawatts of potential capacity, which adds up to several percent of the U.S.'s existing electric generation capacity across all fuels and resources.
To speed the development of this resource, DOE has proposed a competitive solicitation for grant funding for "Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects". The goal is to install innovative offshore wind systems in U.S. waters in the most rapid and responsible manner possible, and expedite the development and deployment of innovative offshore wind energy systems with a credible potential for lowering the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) below 10 ¢/kWh or the local "hurdle" price at which offshore wind can compete with other regional generation sources without subsidies.
Applications must include certain materials as specified in the Funding Opportunity Announcement (docketed as DE-FOA-0000410). The Department has stated that it expects applications to come from world-class multi-sector consortia, including energy project developers, equipment suppliers, research institutions and marine installation specialists. Grant funds may be used to cover up to 80 percent of a project’s design costs and 50 percent of the hardware and installation costs. Letters of intent are due on March 30 and applications are due on May 31, 2012.