October 14, 2020 Read More →

Mitsubishi unit sees potential in offshore wind projects in U.S. Great Lakes region

Greentech Media:

Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. continues to explore the possibility of building an offshore wind project in Lake Erie to deliver power for New York state, as development zones off the Atlantic Coast remain in limited supply.

Diamond Offshore Wind, a unit of Mitsubishi Corp., stirred up local opposition last year after submitting an interconnection request with New York’s grid operator for potential capacity in eastern Lake Erie. The developer still believes offshore wind turbines are a good solution for the Great Lakes region as states seek more renewable power and clean energy jobs, CEO Chris Wissemann told GTM.

Diamond Offshore Wind was encouraged by a white paper from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority released this summer, looking at the state’s options for meeting its 70 percent renewable energy target for 2030. In the white paper, NYSERDA called for a feasibility study to “explore and confirm” the potential benefits of offshore wind in the Great Lakes.

At this stage, Diamond still does not have a specific project under development in Lake Erie. “We’re watching earnestly to see if New York, through this feasibility study, concludes that projects are worthwhile in the Great Lakes,” Wissemann said. “If so, and if that ultimately turns into a solicitation in the next year or two, we’d be keenly interested in participating.”

Offshore wind development has moved at a snail’s pace in the Great Lakes, despite longstanding interest and big potential. Much of the focus to date has been on the Icebreaker project offshore Cleveland, backed by the nonprofit Lake Erie Energy Development Corp.

Wissemann said future Great Lakes projects will look more like those shaping up along the Atlantic Coast: larger and more competitive on cost. Winter ice endemic to the Great Lakes is not an engineering challenge for turbines affixed to the seabed, and there’s no need to demonstrate any particular technology for freshwater projects to advance, he said. “I think you can go bigger, faster in the Great Lakes.”

[Karl-Erik Stromsta]

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