A big step forward in the pursuit for wind energy off the north shore was announced today at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER Conference in Dallas. Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) announced that it will be partnering with GE for the Northeast Ohio offshore wind energy project.
The wind turbines that Clevelanders will see in Lake Erie in the not too distant future will be GE's next generation wind turbine, a 4 megawatt machine designed specifically for offshore deployment. These turbines, the largest in GE's fleet, are gearless, direct-drive wind turbines that feature GE's innovative advanced loads controls and aeroelastically tailored blade technology. GE will supply the turbines and their maintenance for the 20 MW pilot project that's been in development over the last four years.
If all goes as planned, we can expect to look north and see clean, renewable energy in Lake Erie by 2012. And if things continue to go smoothly, LEEDCo and GE say we can expect to see hundreds (1,000 MW) of these turbines spinning in the wind off the shores of Northeast Ohio by 2020.
There are only seven offshore wind projects underway in the United States according to AWEA's 2009 Annual Report*. The Northeast Ohio project is the only one planned in the Great Lakes, a sign that the project may in fact be the first freshwater wind farm in the U.S. and possibly the first freshwater wind farm in the world.
Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said, "Ohio's greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie, and this partnership marks a significant step forward. In Ohio, we have all the right assets to make offshore wind energy successful, including an innovative workforce and the manufacturing strengths that would allow us to build all the component parts for wind turbines. This partnership will not only advance offshore wind technologies, it will also advance Ohio's economy. We are eager to continue the state's strong collaboration with GE and LEEDCo as we pursue this exciting, first-of-its-kind initiative for Lake Erie."
Read the full press release here.
*On the cover of the AWEA Annual Report is a photo (seen above) of a bolt maker and a giant bolt used in the manufacturing of wind turbines; it was taken at Cardinal Fastener in Bedford Heights, not Dayton as indicated by the photo credit.