We’re Not Just Building an Offshore Wind Project in Lake Erie, We’re Creating an Offshore Wind Industry
Northeastern Ohio is developing the first freshwater offshore wind project in North America. It is being managed by a premier development and construction team led by Freshwater Wind. The project has broad-based community support and is sponsored by the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo).
Offshore wind is one of the few emerging and growing large-scale manufacturing industries in the United States. While Europe continues to lead the offshore wind charge with over $3.5 billion in offshore wind projects in 2010 alone, and in excess of $150 billion expected in the next 10 years, several U.S. projects are surfacing off the Atlantic Coast and in the Great Lakes. Commercial scale applications of offshore wind technology have created more than 40,000 jobs worldwide. With the U.S. poised to become a new manufacturing hub, there is now an active race among multiple states to see who will have the first project and obtain the corresponding economic development benefits – supply chain manufacturing of component parts, port development to build foundations and assemble towers, and the significant engineering and construction opportunities that accompany such projects. With world-class industrial capacity, excellent ports, suitable electrical transmission infrastructure, and a trained labor force, Ohio is well positioned to become a regional hub for decades, as this industry matures.
The initial phase of the Lake Erie Offshore Wind project will demonstrate Ohio’s ability to develop, design and construct offshore wind in the Great Lakes. This demonstration project will be located more than 5 miles off the Cleveland shore and consist of 5 -7 wind turbines that will produce 20 – 30 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to power approximately 5,000 – 7,500 households. It is anticipated that the project will utilize turbines specifically configured to operate in the Great Lakes. The initial 20 – 30 MW project will also serve as a test bed for the future development of utility scale offshore wind projects that may total up to 1,000 MW in Lake Erie alone.
Over time, the development of an offshore wind industry in Lake Erie is expected to create a significant number of jobs and spur economic development in Ohio. According to an economic impact study sponsored by NorTech, the investment, deployment, and operations for the initial wind turbines in the pilot project, and the construction of the first vessel to support installation of the turbines, may create more than 600 jobs. Over the long term, Ohio has the potential to develop more than 5,000 jobs in this emerging market and serve all Great Lakes projects.
This initial investment is estimated to cost $125M and is a precursor to over $2B of renewable energy development in Ohio. With significant community support, a world class development team, and real economic development benefits, the Lake Erie Offshore Wind project will help revitalize Ohio.