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Developer Wants Floating Turbines for Largest West Coast Offshore Wind Project

April 15, 2022 by Dan McCue

SEATTLE — Trident Winds, a Seattle-based wind energy developer, has asked federal regulators to approve its plan to develop the largest offshore wind farm on the West Coast, and to allow it to use floating turbines to bring it to pass.

The company outlined its proposal in an unsolicited request for a commercial renewable energy lease filed with the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management on Tuesday.

The project, which the developer has christened “Olympic Wind,” would be located about 40 miles off the coast of Grays Harbor, Washington, with construction beginning in 2028.

If approved by the Bureau and other federal agencies, the project would provide up to 2,000 MW of wind energy, enough to power approximately 800,000 homes.

But it is the company’s proposal to use floating wind turbines that is its most intriguing aspect by far.

Currently, the few offshore turbines erected in U.S. waters have been “fixed-bottom” turbines, built upon massive pillars or bases.

However, that method of anchoring wind turbines would be ineffective along the Pacific coast where the continental shelf is riddled with steep drop-offs and other topographical irregularities.

Trident Winds’ proposal calls for tethering floating platforms to the ocean floor.

“The Olympic Wind Project is poised to be the first floating, commercial scale offshore wind installation off the coast of Washington State,’ company CEO Alla Weinstein said in a written statement.

“The project will harness our unlimited, carbon-free offshore wind resources for the benefit of all Washingtonians,” she said.

Weinstein is Gov. Jay Inslee’s energy appointee on the Washington State Coastal Marine Advisory Council. She is also a U.S. Department of Energy appointed ambassador for the U.S. Clean Energy Education and Empowerment Initiative.

With the request filed, it’s now up to the Bureau to conduct an initial review to determine whether the company and its proposal meets the agency’s technical, financial and other requirements.

The Biden administration has set a goal of deploying roughly 30,000 MW of offshore wind energy by the year 2030, and plans to make about $3 billion in federal loans available to offshore wind project developers to help meet that goal.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

 

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