Texas offshore wind project wins federal grant

A Texas offshore wind project has been awarded about $4 million by the U.S. Energy Department, part of a federal effort to accelerate development of wind power in state and national waters, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced .

Austin-based Baryonyx Corporation plans to install three large wind turbines in Texas waters near Port Isabel. The 6-megawatt turbines use an advanced support structure and  direct-drive technology.

The Baryonyx project is one of seven projects that will expand commercial offshore wind power by 2017. The program seeks to drive the development and commercialization of innovative technologies in offshore wind power.

Read more: Gulf turbine plan sparks wildlife debate

Each project receives an initial award of about $4 million over the next 12 months to fund its engineering, design and permitting. Up to three projects will receive an additional award of up to $47 million a year for four years toward construction and installation, subject to congressional appropriation.

The projects will be assessed for additional funding based on their economic feasibility, their progress in the permitting process and their ability to lower the cost of wind power energy, according to a DOE spokeswoman. The agency will announce which projects will move into the second funding phase in 2014.

The Energy Department will work with the operators on data analysis to drive further offshore wind development.

“The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources, and it is important for us to develop technologies that will allow us to utilize those resources in ways that are economically viable,” Chu said in a written statement. “Today’s announcement of awards to the first offshore wind projects in the U.S. paves the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and more diverse domestic energy portfolio that develops every source of American energy.”

While nearly a third of all new power generation capacity in the U.S. last year came from land-based wind power projects, the country has no offshore wind power in operation. Nine offshore wind projects are in advanced development, primarily in Texas waters and along the Atlantic Coast, according to a report commissioned by the Energy Department.