The first step in an ambitious project to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind turbines in Lake Erie was taken this week with an order to General Electric for five massive turbines.
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., a Cleveland-based nonprofit, said the direct-drive turbines will provide 4 MW each of electricity and would be operational by the end of 2012, generating enough electricity to power 6,000 homes.
“Ohio's greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie, and this partnership marks a significant step forward,” said state governor Ted Strickland.
The Lake Erie project, the first freshwater offshore wind farm in the U.S., will use GE’s next-generation wind turbine, the largest in its product line, designed specifically for offshore deployment. It will incorporate direct-drive technology from ScanWind, a Norwegian company acquired by GE last year, and will feature GE’s advanced loads controls and aero-elastically tailored blade technology.
The first turbines will be located 6 miles north of Cleveland Browns’ stadium, according to LEEDCo officials. The initial phase will cost between $80 million and $100 million.
The announcement, made at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2010 conference, came less than a month after the Obama administration approved the Cape Wind project for a wind farm offshore from Cape Cod.
The New York Power Authority in December put out a request for proposals for an offshore wind farm in Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. The deadline for the New York Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project proposals is June 1.
Under the Ohio agreement, GE will build and maintain the initial 20-megawatt wind farm. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company will also work with LEEDCo to create a strategic plan to identify cost reductions that can help make offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes economically viable.
“Together, we aim to develop a cost-effective approach for installing and maintaining offshore wind turbines with the highest possible availability,” said LEEDCo president Lorry Wagner. “We are confident that as the GE product line develops and our methodologies mature, the combination will promote a self-sustaining and growing market for offshore wind in Lake Erie and the Great Lakes.”
By. Darrell Delamaide