Potential largest offshore wind farm in the world auctioned off for record price

The rights to establish wind farms off the Massachusetts coast sold for a record-setting $405 million total ...

Posted: Dec 15, 2018 4:35 PM
Updated: Dec 15, 2018 4:35 PM

The rights to establish wind farms off the Massachusetts coast sold for a record-setting $405 million total on Friday, according to federal officials.

Potential construction is still at least nearly a decade away, but if the project were completed today, it would be by far the world's largest offshore wind farm.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Energy and utilities

Environment and natural resources

Environmentalism

Renewable energy

Wind energy

Continents and regions

Massachusetts

North America

Northeastern United States

The Americas

United States

Auctions

The three leases offered for auction by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday fetched $135 million apiece by the time bidding closed on Friday. The previous record for such a lease was $42.5 million, set in 2016 for the rights off New York's coast.

Numbers from the Interior Department, which oversaw the process, showed the area could become the world's most prolific offshore source of wind energy. It projected the area could generate up to 4.1 gigawatts, enough electricity to potentially power nearly 1.5 million homes.

Currently, the largest offshore wind farm in the world is what's known as the "Walney Extension," off the coast of the United Kingdom. It has a capacity of roughly 700 megawatts, less than one-sixth the maximum capacity the US government is estimating could result from the Massachusetts deal.

That prediction is a best-case scenario, not without its caveats. The 4.1 gigawatt figure comes from a 2016 Energy Department estimate of the potential wind power per square kilometer offshore, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management spokesman Stephen Boutwell said. It has not been adjusted based on the area's geography and weather patterns, and the 2016 report notes the full "nameplate power capacity is not the best indicator of potential from an energy production or economic perspective."

Nancy Sopko, director of offshore wind policy and siting for the American Wind Energy Association, said her organization is confident the three new leases would produce a minimum of 800 megawatts each, or 2.4 gigawatts total. That would still make the new Massachusetts wind farms the world's largest offshore project.

"This is an unprecedented day for offshore energy development," Sopko said. "It's smashed every expectation."

Wind power developers have long had an eye on Massachusetts but have not yet successfully brought a project to fruition. A 2001 proposal for 130 wind turbines off Cape Cod sunk under opposition from the fishing industry and the peninsula's tony landowners, such as the Kennedys, who feared obstructed views. The developer called it quits on the project in 2017.

In the meantime, the nation's first offshore wind farm opened near neighboring Rhode Island in 2016. It produces enough electricity to power the entire community of Block Island.

The leases auctioned off this week face a long road to development, Boutwell said. Over the next year, the winning bidders will develop plans to assess the area's wind using meteorological towers and buoys. They'll then have five years to conduct the testing, after which they will submit plans to federal officials, who will conduct an environmental review.

Sopko, the wind energy association executive, said the Massachusetts auctions show the desire of large oil and gas companies to get into offshore wind power. She said there are few firms with as much expertise in operating large offshore rigs.

"The marrying of these two industries is going to create a lot of opportunities," Sopko said.

Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is a supporter of wind power.

President Donald Trump, however, has voiced opposition to wind turbines.

"The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed," he said on the campaign trail. "You know, the environmentalists never talk about that."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 98447

Reported Deaths: 2072
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27557932
Ramsey11167323
Dakota7692126
Anoka6281137
Stearns409424
Washington391855
Scott264833
Olmsted253528
Nobles197916
Blue Earth17366
St. Louis172542
Wright17017
Carver14467
Clay142441
Rice13478
Mower13446
Sherburne117714
Kandiyohi10563
Winona92018
Lyon7334
Waseca7228
Benton5633
Steele5552
Crow Wing55418
Nicollet54717
Freeborn5464
Watonwan5354
Chisago5171
Todd5072
McLeod5022
Le Sueur4764
Otter Tail4694
Beltrami4605
Martin44611
Goodhue3899
Pine3550
Douglas3522
Itasca35215
Polk3274
Isanti3191
Becker2842
Carlton2791
Morrison2702
Dodge2610
Pipestone23810
Chippewa2321
Cottonwood2290
Meeker2132
Wabasha2060
Sibley2023
Yellow Medicine1982
Brown1962
Cass1864
Rock1810
Redwood1783
Murray1742
Mille Lacs1693
Renville1618
Jackson1531
Unassigned15352
Faribault1470
Swift1441
Fillmore1330
Houston1300
Kanabec1288
Roseau1260
Koochiching1233
Hubbard1221
Pennington1201
Lincoln1180
Stevens1071
Pope1000
Aitkin841
Big Stone830
Wadena730
Wilkin713
Lac qui Parle681
Grant634
Lake600
Norman560
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse340
Clearwater310
Lake of the Woods241
Kittson120
Cook70

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 87828

Reported Deaths: 1332
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16113264
Woodbury559768
Johnson517927
Black Hawk454192
Linn4163114
Story348517
Dubuque340242
Scott309528
Dallas282938
Pottawattamie220139
Buena Vista200312
Marshall179434
Sioux17073
Wapello134157
Webster131714
Plymouth118221
Clinton113921
Muscatine112855
Crawford11086
Cerro Gordo106421
Warren9696
Jasper87034
Des Moines8068
Henry7734
Marion7728
Tama75332
Carroll6955
Lee6527
Wright5971
Dickinson5426
Boone5268
Bremer5067
Washington48511
Delaware4413
Louisa43415
Mahaska42720
Lyon3754
Jackson3583
Floyd3573
Franklin35218
Clay3434
Winneshiek3408
Benton3381
Hamilton3343
Winnebago32313
Hardin3111
Poweshiek3118
Buchanan2921
Jones2893
Kossuth2860
Butler2792
Emmet27510
Chickasaw2701
Shelby2701
Clarke2693
Clayton2683
Sac2670
Allamakee2656
Guthrie2649
Harrison2593
Cherokee2572
Cedar2531
Fayette2382
Madison2342
Grundy2294
Iowa2221
Palo Alto2080
Hancock1992
Mitchell1970
Humboldt1943
Howard1927
Mills1911
Page1910
Calhoun1883
Osceola1770
Cass1762
Pocahontas1662
Monona1621
Monroe16211
Lucas1566
Appanoose1443
Union1423
Jefferson1401
Taylor1341
Davis1284
Ida1281
Fremont1220
Keokuk1191
Van Buren1181
Worth1090
Greene1050
Montgomery995
Audubon891
Wayne882
Adair731
Decatur670
Ringgold532
Adams330
Unassigned140
Rochester
Overcast
49° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
Mason City
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 53°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
52° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 52°
Austin
Overcast
52° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 52°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
54° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Winds pick up for Wednesday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events