Construction of New Offshore Wind Farm Provides Opportunities for U.S. Manufacturers
Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) is actively pursuing offshore wind power as the next breakthrough in energy generation in the United States. The non-profit group has just embarked on a milestone project called Icebreaker, which aims to launch the offshore wind industry in the area of the Great Lakes and Ohio.
The Icebreaker project involves the construction and installation of six wind turbines near the coast of Cleveland. Eric Ritter, who works as communications and strategy manager at LEEDCo, said that the company aims to develop technologies that could not only harness offshore wind power efficiently, but also stand up against the strong wind force along the shores. “Our goal was to identify a foundation type that could withstand Lake Erie’s harshest winters and could also be fabricated by American companies,” Ritter said.
Initial designs by the company led them to find the right support for their wind turbines.
“Based in part on the feedback from the local supply chain, we ultimately chose the monopile-type foundation,” Ritter said. The team is now finalizing the design of the wind turbine structure, with due consideration for the capability of domestic steel fabricators to manufacture the parts. “The United States, and our region in particular, has some of the best steel fabrication companies in the world. Our design will enable them to compete against their European counterparts that already have decades of experience in this industry,” Ritter added.
The U.S. may be lagging behind other nations – particularly in Europe – that are already enjoying the benefits of offshore wind power. However, with this spark in interest to use the natural force of the wind, Americans will see the shift toward wind energy generation in a few years.