Crude Oil ( ) Brent Crude ( ) Natural Gas ( ) S&P 500 ( ) PHLX Oil ( )

Block Island wind project is expected to generate 30 MW of electricityBlock Island Offshore Wind

Deepwater Wind’s Block Island project is beginning construction three miles off the coast of Rhode Island, making it the first offshore wind energy project to reach the construction phase in the United States.

With the full $360 million in project financing in its coffers, the Block Island Wind Farm, when completed, will consist of five offshore turbines totaling 30 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity, and is expected to come online sometime in 2016, according to Deepwater Wind. The project is expected to generate enough power to meet the annual energy demands of more than 17,000 households, according to a UPI story.

The company said Societe Generale of Paris, France, and KeyBank National Association of Cleveland, Ohio, are providing $290 in project financing in addition to the $70 million in equity funding already provided by the company’s existing owners.

According to the company, the project will create 300 jobs in Rhode Island, and reduce energy bills for residents of Block Island by as much as 40%. Block Island is the first, and smallest, of three offshore projects that Deepwater Wind is planning along the Atlantic Coast.

Offshore Wind Energy Potential

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that the United States has 4,200 gigawatts (GW) of developable offshore wind potential, compared to its estimate of 11,000 GW of onshore wind potential, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Developers in the U.S. have proposed building nearly 4.9 GW of offshore wind capacity of the coasts of nine different states, but most projects have run into major litigation and development problems.

Europe has seen much greater expansion of its offshore wind capacity, which currently accounts for 90% of the estimated 8.8 GW of installed global offshore wind turbine capacity.

EIA Offshore Wind

The United States is estimated to have more abundant and favorable onshore wind resources, which are largely located in areas with low population density. So far, economic and policy pressures have generally made domestic offshore wind projects unattractive, while onshore installations have grown by more than a factor of 25 since 2000, according to the EIA.

Building and maintaining offshore wind technology is expensive compared with onshore wind projects because of challenges such as transporting equipment and workers to the sites, securing turbines to the seafloor, and operating in fewer periods of fair weather. The harsher offshore environment not only makes it difficult and more costly to perform maintenance, but it also increases the frequency that these activities have to take place.

Comparing Costs of Wind Plant v. Gas Plant

By way of comparison, the Panda Patriot Power Project under construction near Williamsport, Penn., is a natural gas-fueled, 829-megawatt combined-cycle generating station. Once built, the plant is expected to supply the power needs of up to 1 million homes. Estimated construction costs are $800 million.

Construction costs for the two plants, when divided by the number of households they will serve, calculates as follows:

  • Block Island Wind Project = $21,176 per household
  • Panda Patriot NatGas Project = $800 per household

Important disclosures: The information provided herein is believed to be reliable; however, EnerCom, Inc. makes no representation or warranty as to its completeness or accuracy. EnerCom’s conclusions are based upon information gathered from sources deemed to be reliable. This note is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or financial instrument of any company mentioned in this note. This note was prepared for general circulation and does not provide investment recommendations specific to individual investors. All readers of the note must make their own investment decisions based upon their specific investment objectives and financial situation utilizing their own financial advisors as they deem necessary. Investors should consider a company’s entire financial and operational structure in making any investment decisions. Past performance of any company discussed in this note should not be taken as an indication or guarantee of future results. EnerCom is a multi-disciplined management consulting services firm that regularly intends to seek business, or currently may be undertaking business, with companies covered on Oil & Gas 360®, and thereby seeks to receive compensation from these companies for its services. In addition, EnerCom, or its principals or employees, may have an economic interest in any of these companies. As a result, readers of EnerCom’s Oil & Gas 360® should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this note. EnerCom, or its principals or employees, may have an economic interest in any of the companies covered in this report or on Oil & Gas 360®. As a result, readers of EnerCom’s reports or Oil & Gas 360® should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report.