Plans for a ground-breaking 12MW floating offshore wind project to be installed in waters off the US state of Maine will be reconsidered by the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Thursday.
Developer Statoil has revised its original proposal, reducing the amount it is asking to receive for the electricity that the project’s four turbines would generate.
Statoil’s initial Hywind proposal did not convince Maine’s PUC, with some commissioners arguing that it would not offer the state sufficient long-term economic gain. In response, Statoil has reduced the amount it is seeking from any power purchase agreements (PPA) it signs with local utilities, from $320-290/MWh down to $270/MWh.
The Norwegian oil and gas firm has also promised to employ at least 150 Maine residents to work on the project and to spend a minimum of 40% of the project’s capital and operational costs in Maine.
If the PUC approves the revised proposal, this will allow Statoil to move toward negotiating twenty-year PPAs. However, the project’s future would still depend on the awarding of substantial grants from the US Department of Energy and the securing of offshore investment tax credits. One DoE grant for the project was announced late last year.
The initial Hywind pilot in Norwegian waters features a single turbine and has been a technical success, with good electricity generation. Statoil is now seeking to develop one or more multiple-turbine Hywind trials, with the site off Maine’s Booth Bay Harbour in the running. Another site, off Scotland’s north east coast, is also under consideration.