New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will administer an $18.5 million offshore wind research and development consortium, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said. The consortium will unite industry, academia, government and other stakeholders to advance offshore wind plant technologies. The project, funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), aims to reduce U.S. offshore wind costs.

“There is enormous potential for offshore wind in the United States,” Timothy Unruh, EERE’s assistant secretary of renewable power, said in a news release. “Through this consortium, DOE seeks to support fundamental research to accelerate the development of affordable offshore wind technologies.”

The grant will be matched by financial support from NYSERDA and is for a term of four years. Building on successful European models, the consortium is engaging private sector support that will allow it to chart a path to financial self-sufficiency, so it can continue its work when federal support ends.

"New York leads the nation in its commitment to renewable energy, and offshore wind is an affordable clean energy source that will power our future," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "This consortium cements our role as the national capital of the offshore wind industry and will drive innovation and development, support job creation and bolster our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a cleaner, greener New York for all." 

Earlier this year, Cuomo directed NYSERDA to invest $15 million in clean energy workforce development and infrastructure advancement to train workers to support the growth of the offshore wind industry. Joe Martens, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance, called the grant "a capstone to the governor's efforts to advance offshore wind energy, not only in New York, but around the country." 

Currently, the U.S. only has one commercial offshore wind plant in operation. The Block Island Wind Farm, developed by Deepwater Wind off the Rhode Island coast, ended up costing $300 million to power 17,000 homes.

The consortium will look at four conditions that drive those costs:

  1. Deep water, requiring floating foundations for turbines.
  2. Areas where the seabed conditions are not well understood.
  3. The impact of hurricanes on the East coast.   
  4. Challenging environments for installation and operations at sea.

NYSERDA will administer and coordinate the collaborative research and development activities, including offshore wind industry members who will use the research findings to further advance technologies that can reduce the cost of offshore wind in the U.S. market, DOE said. NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said the consortium will aid in making "offshore wind the self-sustaining clean energy industry that we need to fight climate change."

The consortium fits in with New York State’s Offshore Wind Master Plan, which includes a goal to develop 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. The project is also a path to initiating the DOE’s National Offshore Wind Strategy, which proposes deployment of 86 gigawatts of nationwide offshore energy by 2050.