U.S. Mulls Hawaiian Offshore Wind Projects


Published Mar 22, 2015 7:06 PM by Wendy Laursen

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has received requests for the construction of two floating wind farms offshore from Oahu, Hawaii.

The unsolicited requests, now available online, were received in January from AW Hawaii Wind (AWH) for the Oahu Northwest Project and the Oahu South Project. Each project would see the construction of farms with a capacity of 408MW of renewable energy generated by 51 floating 8MW wind turbines.

AW Hawaii is a Texas-based subsidiary of Danish Developer Alpha Wind Energy. Its partners include Portuguese industrial group A. Silva Matos, wind energy consultant Energy and Environmental Data and Danish energy management company NEAS.

The proposals call for one farm to be located 17 miles south of Oahu in depths of up to 700m and the other 12 miles northwest of Kaena Point in depths of up to 1,000m. Both farms would cover an area of about 12,000 acres. 

The project would be designed to primarily serve the island of Oahu. With a population of just under one million, or approximately 70 percent of the population of the state, Oahu is the most heavily populated Hawaiian island. Its electricity needs generally peak at 1,200MW with a minimum of 600MW.

A 700MW offshore windfarm with a conservative 35-40 percent capacity factor would account for approximately 25-30 percent of the existing net generation, which is generally considered acceptable for intermittent resource penetration, says the report. “Furthermore, increased use of prediction and control methods used in Europe, electric cars, further smart grid development and implementation and possible energy storage facilities will only increase the possibility for additional wind penetration for the island.”

A BOEM Hawaii Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting will be scheduled in the near future to discuss the lease requests, BOEM said. On 26 February, BOEM determined that the developer is qualified legally, financially and technically to hold a lease on the U.S. outer continental shelf. The next step will be for BOEM to determine whether there is competitive interest in the area.

Hawaii’s clean energy initiative targets the use of 70 percent renewable energy by 2030, with 40 percent of its electricity production coming from solar, wind and other renewables.

To date, there are no offshore windfarms in operation in the U.S., although several developments are underway. The proposed Hawaiian projects would be in water depths at least five times greater than those currently proposed for the U.S. east coast.

The proposals are available here.