Large fixed and floating wind farms are planned in the US, the first of which will come on stream along the East Coast, and then possibly followed by the West Coast in deepwater. However, there are other regions in North and South America, and even the Caribbean that are rapidly aiming for offshore wind farms. One of those locations, offshore Texas, may develop ahead of the West Coast by taking advantage of the unparalleled expertise in ocean engineering in Texas gained through over 40 years of offshore oil and gas developments.

In addition, Texas has regional competitive advantages that could result in another offshore boom for the region. Texas is the leading state for onshore wind power and consequently has some highly innovative research institutions and initiatives that could further push Texas to the forefront of regional, if not global, offshore wind technology development and deployment. The additional advantages that Texas can provide to wind farm developers based on its proximity to the Caribbean and South American offshore wind markets are also presented.

As an example of innovation in Texas, the University of Texas at Dallas, DOE ARPA-E (Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy) funded vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) development is summarized (ARPA-E, 2020). While elements of VAWT technology are transferable to horizontal axis wind turbine (HAWT) technology to improve HAWT performance, more generally, the deployment of VAWTs overcomes many logistical and performance problems inherent in deploying HAWTs offshore. Such VAWT advantages are discussed.

Two cases are presented comparing HAWT versus VAWT floating wind farms. The technology and execution differences of the two cases are compared and the net present value and internal rate of return are calculated conserving the technology differences. Discussion of forthcoming additional financing opportunities is also presented to illustrate how even in low-cost electric rate markets, offshore wind can still be feasible.

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