The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced there is $5 million in new funding for Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), the non-profit corporation leading the effort for the first freshwater offshore wind project in the nation.
“The DOE funding for ‘Icebreaker’ is a testament and vote of confidence for LEEDCo’s world-class team members and partners,” said LEEDCo President Dr. Lorry Wagner. “After a highly-competitive evaluation process, I am excited and proud to say that ‘Icebreaker’ was selected for its innovation and expertise in wind energy development. This funding allows us to move forward on the first freshwater offshore wind project in America, and it paves the way for future financial support from the Department of Energy and private investors.”
Through a one-year cooperative agreement, the DOE has committed $4 million to support the advancement of the offshore wind energy project known as "Icebreaker", which consists of five to nine wind turbines seven miles off the coast of Cleveland in Lake Erie. LEEDCo’s private partners committed an additional $1 million in cost share as part of the agreement.
"Icebreaker" is one of only seven offshore wind energy projects that DOE awarded funding and the only one in the Great Lakes. The selected demonstration projects will help address key challenges associated with installing utility-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, as well as navigating new permitting and approval processes.
The DOE is making available up to $180 million over the next five years to help accelerate the deployment of breakthrough wind power technologies. "Icebreaker" could potentially receive an additional $46.7 million in federal funding.
Ocean and Coastal Consultants (OCC), a COWI Group company and part of COWI North America, has been working alongside LEEDCo for two years and will be the foundation designer of record. Under a separate DOE grant, OCC|COWI is currently investigating a utility scale project to be located further offshore from Cleveland in Lake Erie (Freshwater Wind I). The culmination of the first year's work will be to select a foundation type, based upon design and cost estimating from both grants.
"OCC|COWI has been a leader in North America in the development of offshore wind foundations and construction planning since 2005" said Stanley White, P.E., Principal for OCC. "This demonstration project will be the basis for moving forward in the Great Lakes which has significant ice and geotechnical challenges. These challenges are different from the offshore wind projects in Europe. OCC|COWI is able to bring over 30 years of offshore wind expertise to the project and we are extremely excited to be part of the LEEDCo team."
"The economic impact will also be significant" said Rebecca O. Bagley in a Forbes posting. "The 20-25 megawatt (MW) “Icebreaker” project alone will generate approximately 500 jobs over the next several years, 10 percent of which will become permanent maintenance, planning and administrative positions. With this project as a catalyst, the offshore wind industry in Lake Erie could generate 8,000 jobs over the next 20 years, leading to 5,000 MW of offshore wind energy in the lake by 2030."