North America offshore wind test centre looks to the Dutch

14 Oct 2011

Offshore wind farm at sunset

Drawing heavily on Dutch renewable energy expertise, North America’s first offshore wind turbine test centre is aiming to be an important stepping stone for offshore wind development along the US east coast. Set to be poised off the east coast of Virginia state, the Poseidon Atlantic project, with an investment of up to US$120m, is being developed by a consortium that includes Dutch companies Ecofys and Fugro, along with the Maryland-based Real NewEnergy, which also has a Dutch base.

The project will provide up to 25 jobs in the Eastern Shore area of Virginia during the next two years.

The Commonwealth of Virginia, Northampton County and the Virginia Port Authority are also collaborating on the project, with further support from the Dutch government.

Due to a current lack of expert certification testing for offshore wind turbines globally, the Poseidon Atlantic project’s developers are hoping it will be an important stepping stone for offshore wind development along the US’ east coastline.

The developers are hoping to complete construction by the end of 2012, with the first turbines starting to generate energy by early spring 2013. The facility is expected to run for at least 20 years.

With space for eight to 10 turbines, Poseidon Atlantic will have up to 50MW of wind-generation capacity. An investment of between US$100m and US$120m is being poured into the project.

The developers behind the Poseidon Atlantic project maintain the region has the potential to become a hub for offshore wind development due to its deep water ports and local, skilled and flexible workforce.

The centre itself will supply testing and certification services providing proof-of-quality for offshore wind turbines.

It will also serve other needs, including those of turbine manufacturers running their own research programmes or electricity transmission network operators investigating wind turbine impact on their operations.

This work will draw heavily on Dutch expertise. Ecofys, for instance, which inaugurated Europe’s largest onshore wind turbine test centre in Lelystad, Netherlands, in February 2011, is now set to play a major role in the US project.

Kees van der Leun COO Ecofys

“Participating in Poseidon Atlantic provides Ecofys with the exciting opportunity
to participate at the forefront of offshore wind energy development in the US,
using its broad expertise in both wind turbine test site development and operation
and in offshore wind energy,” said Kees van der Leun, chief operating officer of Ecofys

Fugro will supply engineering services in connection with the test centre’s site and development. Meanwhile, Real NewEnergy is a key driver behind the project in its role as facilitator for the introduction and dissemination of Dutch renewable energy capabilities in the US.

More on the developers

Set up in 1984, Ecofys says its vision is to achieve “sustainable energy for everyone”. Ecofys has become an expert in renewable energy, energy and carbon efficiency, energy systems and markets, as well as energy and climate policies. The synergy between those areas of expertise is the key to its success. Ecofys aims to create smart, effective, practical and sustainable solutions for and with public and corporate clients all over the world. With offices in the Netherlands, Germany, UK, China and the US, the company employs more than 250 experts who work on solving energy and climate challenges.

Founded in 1962, Fugro is a collector, processor and interpreter of data related to the earth’s surface, subsurface and waters, and provides advice based on the results to clients. Fugro has been a partner in the development of more than 100 installed and proposed European offshore wind projects, and has been a supporter for the development of an offshore wind industry in the US. Fugro has offices in 60 countries and a staff of 14,000.

Founded in 2010 and with its headquarters in Maryland in the US, Real NewEnergy offers expertise, technologies and project development in the sustainable and renewable energy arena. Its market focus is to bring together international energy capabilities with US market requirements.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic