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Gamesa halts U.S. offshore wind prototype installation

The company blames the U.S. market and regulatory conditions for postponing installation of the offshore prototype near Cape Charles, Va. - which the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) approved earlier this year.

Since September 2010, Gamesa has been working with its collaboration partner, Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, to design an offshore wind prototype, the G11X-5.0 MW.

According to the company, this collaborative effort had focused on turbine reliability, low maintenance and servicing requirements, civil engineering efficiencies in infrastructure development, and cost of energy, concluding with plans to install a test turbine off the mid-Atlantic coast.

Now, however, Gamesa and Newport News Shipbuilding will suspend the programme upon completion of the Critical Design Review (CDR), due to what a statement called "a deterioration in the prospects for offshore wind development in the U.S." The companies have concluded that a viable commercial market in the U.S. is still farther out, "as much as three or four years away, at the earliest".

While there have been improvements to siting in federal waters, the statement read, regulatory issues still affect the level and speed at which projects can be approved: In addition, "the pace of growth is further delayed by the lack of an offshore grid [...] uncertainty surrounding the Production Tax Credit, which will expire at the end of the year without congressional action, and the lack of a federal energy policy..."

These factors have made it difficult for the companies to secure financing for projects.

Without a mature offshore wind market in the U.S., the companies have decided that it is extremely difficult to justify "the enormous expenditure of capital and utilisation of engineering and technical resources that would be needed to build and install a prototype in the U.S."

A joint Offshore Wind Technology Center, opened in February 2011 in Chesapeake, Va., will wind down at the end of the year as the CDR is completed.

Gamesa says that its efforts in the offshore segment globally continue to move forward at a fast pace. In Europe, where offshore programs are moving forward, plans are underway with the permitting process for installation of its G128-5.0 MW offshore wind turbine at Arinaga Quay in Gran Canary Island (Canary Islands, Spain).

 

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