The “National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States” outlines a collaborative, strategic plan to continue accelerating offshore wind energy development. The strategy details the current state of offshore wind in the U.S., presents the actions and innovations needed to reduce deployment costs and timelines, and provides a roadmap to support the growth and success of the industry, possibly enabling 86GW of wind by 2050.

The National Offshore Wind Strategy identifies challenges facing the industry and more than 30 specific actions that the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Interior (DOI) can take over the next five years to address those challenges. These actions fall into three strategic areas:

  • Reducing technical costs and risks – DOI proposes the joint development of standard data collection guidelines to foster predictability and inform safe project development.
  • Supporting effective stewardship – DOI commits to ensure that the regulatory process is predictable, transparent, efficient, and informed by lessons learned from regulators in other countries. DOI and DOE will collect field data on parts of offshore development including impacts on marine life and turbine radar interference in order to support future offshore wind siting and plan reviews.
  • Improving the market conditions for investment – Studies will be used to broaden knowledge of grid integration impacts of adding offshore wind energy and state policies critical to supporting development.

The strategy builds on DOE and DOI’s first joint offshore wind strategy, published in 2011. Since then, the Energy Department has allocated nearly $200 million to support three cutting-edge offshore wind demonstration projects led by the University of Maine, New Jersey’s Fishermen’s Energy, and Ohio’s Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., and research and development investments in technologies that specifically address the opportunities and challenges across U.S. waters. Additionally, since 2010, DOI has issued 11 commercial leases for offshore wind development, nine of which generated approximately $16 million through competitive lease sales and covered more than one million acres of federal waters.

The strategy was published after construction was completed in August on America’s first offshore commercial wind farm off of Block Island, Rhode Island. The 30MW wind farm was The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) first right-of-way grant and is expected to start operating by the end of 2016. It will generate enough electricity to power 17,000 homes in New England. Across the country, states like Massachusetts, which just passed an energy bill that requires utilities to get 1,600MW of their power from offshore wind by the summer of 2027, are accelerating the development of offshore wind across our nation’s coastal states. DOE has found that developing 86,000MW of these offshore wind energy resources by 2050 would support 160,000 jobs, reduce power sector water consumption by 5%, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.8%.

DOE announces 16 energy storage and conversion projects

The Energy Department’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) will grant $37 million for 16 projects as part of its new Integration and Optimization of Novel Ion-Conducting Solids (IONICS). IONICS project teams are developing technologies to overcome limitations of current battery and fuel cell products.

By creating high performance parts built with solid ion conductors the IONICS program will focus on new ways to process and integrate these parts into devices with the goal of accelerating their commercial deployment. Projects will work to improve energy storage and conversion technologies in transportation batteries, grid-level storage, and fuel cells.

FERC review of market power analysis

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice of inquiry into revising how it assesses market power in electric utility industry mergers and other transactions under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act (FPA) and applications for market-based rate authority under Section 205 of the FPA.

Of particular interest is whether FERC should:

  • Improve the commission’s single pivotal supplier analysis in reviewing market-based rate applications
  • Modify how capacity for long-term power purchase agreements should be attributed in Section 203 transactions
  • Require submission of applicant merger-related documents
  • FERC also is seeking comment on its scope of review under Section 203.
  • FERC finalizes new reliability standard on geomagnetic disturbances

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted to support continued reliable operation of the nation’s Bulk-Power System by approving a new reliability standard addressing the vulnerability of electric transmission systems to geomagnetic disturbances (GMD).

    The final GMD rule follows a May 2015 proposal, discussions in multiple rounds of filings, and a technical conference that took place in March 2016. The rule addresses the second of a two-stage process under which the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), the commission-approved Electric Reliability Organization, developed new GMD standards.

    The new rule approves NERC’s proposed standard, but also directs NERC to develop changes to the reliability standard consistent with those that were set out in last year’s proposed rule. Under the approved standard, certain transmission and generator owners, planning coordinators, and transmission planners must assess the vulnerability of their systems to a benchmark GMD event, described as a one-in-100-year event. If an assessment indicates that a system does not meet the performance requirements, the responsible entity would have to develop a corrective action plan addressing how it will meet the requirements.

    The standard will require entities to have system models needed to complete vulnerability assessments, to have criteria for acceptable steady-state voltage performance during a benchmark GMD event, and to complete vulnerability assessments once every 60 months.