If T. Boone Pickens has decided the capital markets can’t fund his plan for a 4 GW wind farm right now, we’re wondering how a group called the Ocean Energy Institute plans to build one of the world’s largest wind farm — made up of 5GW of floating turbines — off the Gulf of Maine. This week the International Herald Tribune took a look at the Ocean Energy Institute and its plan to use funds “from major corporations and foundations” to build five 9.2-square-mile offshore wind farms in the Gulf of Maine starting in 5-7 years with full deployment in 10 years.
The Ocean Energy Institute calls itself a “think tank” and is run, as the IHT notes, by energy investment banker and energy adviser to President George W. Bush, Matthew Simmons, as well as physicist George Hart. Simmons and Hart say that wind turbines built just off the coasts of the U.S. offer better, more powerful wind resources than many onshore wind plans, and that the Gulf of Maine in particular has some of the best wind areas in the world.
Dubbing the plan a “Manhattan Project for Maine,” the Ocean Energy Institute says it could create some 20,000-30,000 jobs. The group on its web site also lays out a larger plan to get the U.S. off of fossil fuels, which the group calls the “Pickens Plan Plus” or the “Simmons Plan’ — use wind farms to power the grid, but add in the large amounts of offshore wind around the U.S.
It’s unclear how much traction with policymakers or the community the group has gotten, or how much funding it’s raised for its ambitious plan. It’s certainly not a good time to turn to capital markets. Also not discussed in the plan is the idea of NIMBYism, which has helped delay other offshore wind projects in the U.S.