From left, Michael Northrop, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund's program director for sustainable development; Charles Riordan, vice provost for research at UD; Stephanie McClellan, director of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind; Doug Pfeister, interim president, Offshore Wind Development Coalition; and Catherine Bowes of the National Wildlife Federation.

Wind initiative

Offshore wind initiative will work at intersections of government, industry, NGOs

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3:30 p.m., Feb. 25, 2014--The University of Delaware will steer the way toward making offshore wind turbines a reality in the United States through a new initiative announced today at a major industry conference. 

The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, housed at the University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, will serve as an independent catalyst for offshore wind development and add momentum to a promising industry that is at a critical juncture.

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“As a research university, it is our role to be the nexus for partnerships among private sectors, NGOs and government. We are able to serve economic development that joins cutting-edge science and technology with a commitment to clean energy and industry support,” said Charles Riordan, vice provost for research at UD, during the announcement at Offshore Wind Power USA. “We see the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind as being a neutral party that can bring all of the interested parties to the table, while having the in-house expertise to provide a sound basis for discussion.”

The independent, objective and non-commercial offshore wind program, supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is designed to advance the U.S. offshore wind industry, drawing together critical information on cutting-edge technologies, financing and collaboration opportunities. 

UD is uniquely positioned to take on such as role given its long history of advancing offshore wind through policy analysis, research, public testimony and industrial partnerships. 

For example, in 2010 UD and Gamesa Technology Corporation joined forces to install a utility-scale 2-megawatt coastal wind turbine at the University’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, Del., allowing the company to test the turbine in a coastal environment and students to conduct training and research on an industrial-scale turbine.

This new initiative is separate from, yet complements, existing and long-standing UD efforts on offshore wind power housed in the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.

The initiative will connect states with international experts, especially in Europe where more than 2,000 wind turbines are now installed and grid connected in eleven countries. The resource will provide technological, financial and strategic advice to all states exploring offshore wind and help advance customized policy models. 

“Offshore wind is the most powerful potential carbon-reducing energy source for East Coast states,” said the project’s creator, Stephanie McClellan. “Wide deployment of offshore wind in the U.S. can revitalize coastal industry and ports, reduce pollution and creates tens of thousands of jobs — as it has done in northern Europe and the United Kingdom.”

McClellan joined UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment in January to direct this project and most recently worked for the Google-financed Atlantic Wind Connection, which seeks to build a Mid-Atlantic offshore energy transmission system. 

The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind received seed funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which has been a significant proponent of offshore wind efforts. The program will work with national and international experts in offshore wind, industry participants, NGOs and state and federal policy-makers. 

While housed at UD, the initiative is national in scope and already is playing a key role in major projects to harness the vast East Coast and Great Lakes wind resources. 

“The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind will be a platform for catalyzing multi-sector collaboration and innovation to advance offshore wind,” said Michael Northrop, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s program director for sustainable development. “The time is now; there is a huge opportunity here to tap the East Coast’s largest renewable resource and spur a whole new industry.” 

For offshore wind to be deployed in the U.S., utilities must buy electricity from offshore wind projects, with state support for offshore wind contracts. While the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind will not facilitate contracts or state approval of them, it will provide powerful new data to policymakers about the benefits and urgency of tapping offshore wind. 

“The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind comes at a critical time for offshore wind, one when industry and advocates need to clearly show the value of offshore wind energy,” said Doug Pfeister, interim president, Offshore Wind Development Coalition. “We couldn’t be happier that Stephanie McClellan is leading this important effort and look forward to working with her so to ensure policy makers have full appreciation of the full range of benefits of offshore wind.”

“2014 will be a defining year in efforts to launch the offshore wind industry in the U.S. and this initiative will be an important component of the work to highlight to policy makers and members of the public the industry’s benefits,” said Chris Long, offshore wind manager for the American Wind Energy Association. “We are very excited about this initiative and look forward to working closely with Stephanie and her team.” 

About UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment

UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) strives to reach a deeper understanding of the planet and improve stewardship of environmental resources. 

CEOE faculty and students examine complex information from multiple disciplines with the knowledge that science and society are firmly linked and solutions to environmental challenges can be synonymous with positive economic impact. 

The college brings the latest advances in technology to bear on both teaching and conducting ocean, earth and atmospheric research. Current focus areas are ecosystem health and society, environmental observing and forecasting, and renewable energy and sustainability.

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