It is official, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the now notorious Cape Wind offshore wind power project for Nantucket Sound – and it only took 9+years! While this Department of Interior approval represents the single biggest hurdle, others remain. There will certainly be lawsuits filed by the opposition and the project has yet to secure an agreement for the sale of the power it will produce. Regarding the latter, Cape Wind is presently negotiating a power purchase agreement (PPA) with National Grid. Regarding the lawsuits, it is anybodies guess how those will play out but Cape Wind plans on “breaking water” for the project later this year.
While a stunning victory for Cape Wind, as Salazar correctly stated today, “With this decision, we are beginning a new direction in our nation’s energy future.” The impact of this approval will be seismic for other offshore wind projects in that it signals to all the potential investors who have been patiently waiting in the wings, that money invested in offshore wind projects may finally yield attractive returns. And by all accounts the pay off will be huge because while it is more costly to build offshore, the offshore wind resource is so much more energetic offshore than on shore (wind class 5-7 offshore, compared to 3-5 onshore), that the projects can more than cover the higher, front-end costs of construction.
Now, finally, the US can begin the long road to try and catch up with Europe in terms of their long list of successful offshore wind power projects.