US Wind to Back University of Maryland’s Offshore Wind Research with USD 11 Million

US Wind will allocate USD 11 million in funding over ten years to support the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s (UMCES) three research projects that will take place in US Wind’s lease area in federal waters offshore Ocean City, Maryland.

The three projects, all planned to start this year, will provide data which will help understand the potential environmental effects of offshore wind development in the Mid-Atlantic on marine mammals, fish, and birds.

“Partnering with a leading environmental research institution like UMCES is an exciting building block in our efforts to collect much-needed biological information in our Lease”, said Laurie Jodziewicz, US Wind Senior Director of Environmental Affairs. “The planned work will go a long way in filling knowledge gaps that still exist about offshore wind’s effects on the marine environment. We’re excited to get started”.

US Wind holds lease rights for an approximately 80,000-hectare site in the Maryland Wind Energy Area, located 16 to 48 kilometres off the coast of Maryland.

The company was awarded Offshore Renewable Energy Credits (ORECs) in 2017 for the first phase of its lease area, called MarWin, which will have an installed capacity of 270 MW and is anticipated to come online in 2024. 

In December 2021, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) awarded offshore renewable energy credits to US Wind’s 808.5 MW Momentum Wind, expected to be operational before the end of 2026.

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“As US Wind works to develop offshore wind off Maryland’s coast, it’s imperative that we do so responsibly”, said Jeff Grybowski, US Wind CEO. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with UMCES on industry-leading environmental research that will enhance protections for marine life as we develop this clean energy resource for the region”.

The three projects UMCES will carry out include commercial and recreational fisheries monitoring, an eight-year programme to evaluate the extent that black sea bass change their aggregation behaviours before, during, and after construction. 

Furthermore, the university will be supported in an initiative to continue the deployment of a near real-time whale detection system to provide timely alerts on the presence of baleen whales for a 12-month period from 2022 to 2023. 

UMCES will also commence a long-term research project to support passive acoustic monitoring to detect large whales — such as North Atlantic right whales — and dolphins to understand their presence and migration patterns in and around the US Wind’s lase area and the potential effects of construction. 

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Photo: US Wind