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DOE plans $20.5M offshore wind research, development initiative

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DOE plans $20.5M offshore wind research, development initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy said it plans to fund a $20.5 million offshore wind research project and solicit research ideas to solve some of the industry's biggest problems.

The DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will fund the four-year initiative and seek an administrator to lead a group of offshore wind developers, state agencies and other stakeholders to address the U.S.' specific offshore wind technology issues. The main goal of the research is to lower the cost of offshore wind in the U.S.

"The creation of a cooperative, public-private Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium will maximize the impact of [The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's] research and development funding while addressing the needs of the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry," the notice of intent said.

The U.S. offshore wind project pipeline was estimated to be more than 24,000 MW as of the end of 2016, according to the DOE. The domestic offshore wind industry has had a slow start compared to its European counterparts; the 30-MW Block Island Offshore Wind farm, the first U.S. offshore wind project, started commercial operation nearly a year ago, whereas Europe was responsible for 90% of global installed capacity at the end of 2016. However, the DOE, offshore wind developers and states are increasingly expressing interest and confidence in an American offshore wind market, thanks to declining levelized costs of energy worldwide and stronger state policy commitments.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will give a one-time $18.5 million award that will directly go toward the research project. Another $2 million will go toward federally funded research centers that will focus on research and development approved by the stakeholder group.

A formal funding opportunity announcement is expected to come out in December.