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High five off Massachusetts

Officials at NREL preparing lease zones in federal wind energy area

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory is investigating options for up to five leasing areas in the federal wind energy zone off Massachusetts.

Officials are preparing a draft assessment due 13 June based on 5MW turbines and projects of at least 500MW and potentially up to 2000MW.

Final recommendations to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management are expected 20 July following consultations on the initial results.

The work is part of preparations for competitive auctions for offshore wind development rights on the Massachusetts outer continental shelf.

Up to 3000 turbines could in theory be accommodated in the area, according to presentations released as part of a BOEM teleconference this month.

Wind speeds at the zone are 9.2 to 9.3 metres per second in the west, rising to 9.4-9.5m/s in the east. Expected capacity factor is 40%.

Water depths range from 30 metres to 65 metres, with the majority in the 50 to 60 metre range. NREL expects depths to the "a driving factor in development cost and timing".

Phased projects have been proposed by most developers expressing an interest off the state. Initial projects are expected within four years but some are a full 16 years out.

Developers indicating they could take part in an auction include Arcadia Offshore, Deepwater Wind, EDF, Cape Wind parent Energy Management Inc, Iberdrola, Fishermen's Energy, Mainstream, Neptune, OffshoreMW and Condor Wind Energy.

A proposed sale notice for the Massachusetts WEA is expected later this year.

Image: developers are hoping to get into the waters off Massachusetts (Dong)

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