No Competitive Interest for Gulf of Maine Offshore Wind Research Project
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced a Determination of No Competitive Interest for a proposed research lease area offshore Gulf of Maine.
BOEM’s determination means it will move forward with the State of Maine’s research application, which could be used to inform any future commercial offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine, as well as the deployment of floating offshore wind technology nationwide.
This announcement follows BOEM’s Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI) in the Gulf of Maine, which was issued last August.
Publication of the RFCI in the Federal Register initiated a 45-day public comment period which closed on 3 October 2022.
BOEM received complete submissions to the RFCI from two qualified entities. However, following a careful review of the submissions, BOEM concluded there was no competitive interest in the RFCI area due to concerns about commercial-scale viability in the proposed research lease area.
This does not guarantee that the State of Maine will receive a research lease, BOEM said. The next steps for processing the research application include publishing a Determination of No Competitive Interest in the Federal Register and initiating an environmental review of potential impacts from offshore wind leasing activities associated with the research lease.
In October 2021, BOEM received an application from the State of Maine for a research lease requesting 9,700 acres on the US Outer Continental Shelf in a location more than 20 nautical miles off the Maine coast.
If developed, the research site would consist of up to twelve floating offshore wind turbines capable of generating up to 144 MW of renewable energy.
The RFCI Area covers 68,320 acres and expands upon Maine’s requested research lease area to allow future siting flexibility to avoid or minimise conflicts with existing ocean users should a lease, either research or commercial, be issued.
According to earlier information on the process at BOEM regarding this area, only a project that is approximately the size of Maine’s research lease proposal and provides a conceptual framework for addressing the research priorities identified in the RFCI will have the potential to move forward.
Looking at the timelines the US Department of the Interior (DOI) published back in 2021, the Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Maine are set to be designated by the fourth quarter of this year and the lease sale is planned for 2024.
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