After nearly five years of floating offshore wind farm planning off the coast of Maine, a project in Oregon may leapfrog those efforts. An initial go-ahead from federal ocean regulators marks the starting line for a pilot project off Coos Bay, which will need to clear several more regulatory and financial hurdles before being built.
Perhaps optimistically, Principle Power (the developer) is holding a target date of 2017 to have its initial five turbines operational. These will be huge, 6MW, 600-foot turbines, similar in design to a model that’s already being tested in the water in Portugal. The project is expected to cost $200 million, which would build around 100MW of capacity on land, as compared to the 30MW this pilot project will construct; Principle Power expects that steadier, stronger offshore winds will let these turbines operate at a higher capacity factor than onshore projects, partially making up that difference. Of course, experimental pilot projects are always far more expensive than later, full-scale build-outs; still, the financial feasibility of projects like this is a work in progress.