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Constructing offshore wind farm in port could save money

Delaware Public Media

University of Delaware researchers are offering new insight into constructing offshore wind farms, while officials take a second look at constructing an offshore wind farm in the state.

The researchers and industry players have been looking at cheaper ways to deploy offshore wind with 10-megawatt turbines.

Willet Kempton, a professor at UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment, says installing an offshore wind farm at sea requires more work and time than building it at port.

“Like a tinker toy or a Lego set, it just takes one piece at a time and puts it down, builds up, up, up to the top and the turbine is finished,” Kempton said.

Kempton says research shows if crews build it at port, they can use land-based construction, which is cheaper. They then use a ship with a crane to bring it to the ocean site.


“It speeds up deployment, it lets you build continuously so all your crews that are building the turbine can work in port. If there’s rain or choppy waves, it doesn’t matter, they can just keep building,” Kempton said.

If Delaware decides to move forward with purchasing offshore wind, this type of work could be done at an abandoned chemical site near Delaware City that’s big enough to lay all the parts down. The site has plenty of rail and road access and a channel with easy access to a port.

Delaware's Offshore Wind Working Group will meet this Friday, Oct. 20. Bruce Burcat, the executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Commission, said they'll be discussing the costs, benefits and impediments of bringing offshore wind to the state.

"The industry is continually looking at ways to reduce its costs even further to be even more competitive with other forms of energy generation," Burcat said. "I think that the industry needs to continue this work and continue to fund research into this proven and environmentally favorable energy resource."


He continued, "Research as done by the University of Delaware is exactly the type of effort we need to reduce the installation costs of turbines. As the experience in Europe has shown us with the cost of offshore wind turbines and turbines, the more development we will see of this resource in the United States, the prices will continue to fall over time."


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