On December 12, 2012, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced that they selected Icebreaker as the only offshore wind project in the Great Lakes to win a highly competitive federal grant worth up to $50 million. The award provides an immediate $4 million investment from the DOE with a private business contribution of $1 million; a collaborative partnership between LEEDCo and the DOE; and it gives us the opportunity to compete for an additional $46.7 million in federal funding over the next 5 years. Additionally, this selection is a strong validation of offshore wind’s potential in the Great Lakes region.
Over the course of the next year, we will find the most cost effective way to finance the project; navigate the regulatory process to apply for all necessary permits; and develop innovative installation methodologies to address challenges specific to Lake Erie as well as the other Great Lakes. Ultimately, the down select process for winning the additional funding will be based on how well we complete the above; how we are able to use innovation to drive down the cost of energy; and the extent to which we demonstrate that we are ahead of the other 6 projects.
More importantly, this grant will play integral role in our larger mission to build an offshore wind industry in the Great Lakes. This region has an enormous opportunity to capitalize on the growing global market for offshore wind, and our robust service sector could become a major player. Once Icebreaker is complete, those turbines will not only pave the way toward a more sustainable energy economy, but they will provide a platform for collecting environmental data from an operating project. Additionally, excellent research institutions, like Case Western Reserve University and the University of Michigan, will help us pioneer new methodologies for lowering the cost of energy.
With the start of the DOE project on 02/15/13, we are one big step closer to building the first freshwater offshore wind project in North America. This project will bring hundreds of jobs to the region and pave the way for thousands of jobs in the future. It will provide an immediate source of clean renewable energy, attract businesses from around the world, and become a huge source of civic pride for decades to come.
One day soon, when the skies are clear, we can look out across Lake Erie to see clean energy gracing the horizon—symbols of a promising future for the Great Lakes.
Dr. Lorry Wagner