July 19 (Renewables Now) - The US government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is studying the feasibility of offshore wind and marine energy projects, including the idea of ocean-based solar energy, in the .
The new project is funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Among the planned activities is a site-specific economic analysis to identify the offshore wind locations offering the best conditions for developers. NREL’s team will also be working to determine the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for offshore wind on the Gulf Coast.
The departments of energy and interior, DoE and DoI, last year released a strategy to support 86 GW of offshore wind deployment by 2050. It included 8.6 GW in Gulf states like Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Current scenarios cited by the NREL show it is possible to achieve in the region an LCOE of below USD 100 (EUR 87m) per MWh by 2025.
On announcing the study last week, NREL said the shallow waters in the Gulf would make wind turbine installation easier, and it mentioned other advantages such as higher accessibility and a close proximity to existing offshore oil and gas infrastructure. Still, wind speeds in the region are low and the possibility of severe cyclones poses a threat so any future offshore wind projects may require hurricane-resistant turbine designs and survival strategies.