The Pacific Northwest state of Oregon is already home to America’s second largest land-based wind farm — the 845 megawatt (MW) Shepherds Flat Wind Farm. Now the state has taken a big step closer to hosting the west coast’s first offshore wind farm. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) just approved plans for Seattle-based Principle Power develop five floating turbines off Coos Bay.The 30 MW pilot project will be located in about 1,400 feet of water roughly 15 miles off the Oregon coast. The reason for using floating turbine technology in deep water as opposed to wind turbines anchored to the seabed in shallow water has to do with the west coast’s narrow continental shelf.

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“This pioneering project would demonstrate floating wind turbine technology capable of tapping the rich wind energy resources in deep waters offshore Oregon. As we look to broaden our nation’s energy portfolio, the innovative technology and its future application holds great promise along the West Coast and Hawaii,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement. She added that the west coast holds the potential for more than 800 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy and the potential for U.S. deep water wind energy is nearly 2,000 GW.

The project will move into the environmental analysis and public comments phase once Principle Power submits its plans to BOEM for final approval. In December, 2012, the company received $4 million in funding for the project from the Department of Energy (DOE). Principle Power was one of seven to receive funding and the only company located on the west coast. The DOE will choose three of the projects for an additional $46.6 million in funding.

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