Japanese bank to fund first U.S. offshore wind farm


March 21, 2013

Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen (Photo: Tony Moran/Shutterstock)

Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen (Photo: Tony Moran/Shutterstock)

Not having a section devoted to cures for insomnia, Gizmag tends to pass over press releases about investment agreements. Tuesday's announcement that the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) is to find somewhere in the order of US$ 2 billion for the Cape Wind is extremely interesting, however, as it means the U.S. should finally build its first offshore wind farm, with construction slated to commence before the year's end.

The Cape Wind project, which should now see the construction of some 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, a patch of the Atlantic Ocean to the south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The farm is expected to have an installed capacity (essentially the maximum theoretical output) of 468 MW. This would put the Cape Wind farm firmly up there with the largest offshore farms in existence, though several, much larger still, have been proposed for Northern Europe and East Asia.

It's claimed that Cape Wind will provide three quarters of the electricity demand of the Cape and Islands region of southeast Massachusetts. It's intended that the turbines will be located at Horseshoe Shoal, several miles off the Cape Cod coast. The project has already been signed off by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Strictly speaking, BTMU is facilitating debt for the $2.6 billion project, the actual investment likely to come from a variety of outside sources.

A report in Cape Cod Online suggests that Cape Wind isn't in the bag quite yet. Some $600 million in equity. Siemens Energy Inc., which will provide the turbines, and the U.S. Department of Energy are thought to be likely sources.

Sources: Cape Wind, Cape Cod Online

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

I wonder if they have factored growing wind power skepticism into their plans. Pictures of generators which failed catastrophically and stories of maintenance issues, abandoned facilities, government subsidies, power blackouts/brownouts and other problems make a lot of people suspicious of using wind power, especially directly on an electrical grid.

Snake Oil Baron

A deep sea wind farm with stronger winds could supply enough power for the eastern part of New England. CT, MA, RI. NH.

Flipider Comm

@Snake Oil Baron You make it sound like those issues don't occur on our existing power infrastructure. Wind power has been used for a lot longer and more reliably than burning things to make energy.


Vertical, non-directional systems are far more efficient and because prop-generators must operate only when wind speeds are right.

The reality of disasters due to failure.

Flipider Comm

Flipider, the main problem with vertical axis wind turbines is the strain placed on the vertical axle which must resist spinning and shearing. That is the top of the turbine wants to bend back in the wind putting a curve through the rotating shaft. A more traditional turbine with a horizontal axis has much less strain through it and so can be made much larger and can deal with much higher wind speeds without wearing down or breaking. A vertical system is excellent for low wind, small total output where the distance between the top and the bottom of the rotating column is small. In the open ocean, the wind speed is very high. Total reliability could be seen as more important than maximum power output over the largest range of wind conditions.


@LordInsidious wrote "Wind power has been used for a lot longer..." How about that last million years of using fire to produce energy for heat light and cooking? Rather a long time before windpower was used for more than sniffing for food or predators

But I AM in favor of ocean windpower. Simply not the primitive dunce-in-the-corner version that Cape Wind's investors propose. Check plans for the waters off Maine if you want to see what state of the art ocean windmillery is all about. Hint: floatingt deepwater windmills mean you can always say "Oops this is a bad spot after all. Let's move our windfarm forty mills east"

By comparison Cape Wind's stick-in-the-mud tech means that if it turns out to be a poor location, say only revving up 20% of what was hoped, or knocking off half the migrating puffins, why, tough!. Those puppies aren't going anywhere. Not without a demolition permit.

Massachusetts needs to look further offshore. Check out for the UMaine-led project, or google: "Hywind Maine" for the Statoil version - norwegian investors that agree: Float your turbines!

Ron Huber

As long as the American taxpayer isn't paying for this, I say go for it. I have no interest in sending my money to a project that will save someone else some money on their electric bill.

Clay Jones

And now for the big secret: Americans driving electric cars likened to the Chreos but from China, with hemp fibre bodies, light weight, no less, using nano carbon (or better) super capacitors (You Google you see) with Energy Storage Density approaching or exceeding that of gasoline. - all ballasting the fluctuations of the Wind Turbines even increasing their efficiency numbers, even absorbing off peak power production from coal, hydro, nuclear, sources for high demand times uses, even making Solar, Wave, Tidal, all more practical electric sources? This is the transition.

Bruce Miller

I'm all in favor of American taxpayers (or taxpayers anywhere) paying for this and other alternative energy ventures. For one, it's only money, no need to idolize money. More importantly, it's simply part of very very necessary R & D which is always a mix of risk and reward. Finally, in the US the bloody oil and coal industry not only has their gargantuan profits to play with but also taxpayer money in the form of huge subsidies and tax breaks no other industry gets. So enough already with the tired "taxpayer" mantra and let's get on with creating an energy future on a lower carbon budget. There is very little time.


@Ron Huber while it is true we have been using fire longer for cooking and heating, I was talking about (and should have been clearer) using energy for mechanical processes, specifically windmills for irrigation, milling grain and other industrial applications. While the rest of your post was interesting I would rather a this wind farm setup as step towards the mobility and flexibility you talked about, instead of another coal burning power plant. Something movable that does both wind and water turbines would of course be the bees knees.


re; moreover

In fact according to Al Gore and other AGW promoters in 2000 we had ten years.

re; Flipider Dot Comm

If you are going to appose wind power do so because it is a economical disaster not because a few windmills spectacularly breakdown, unless your just trying to impose that the wind-energy companies shift to a configuration that they have found to be inferior.

re; Ron Huber

Have you ever considered how much "ship" is required to provide a base that will hold 150 odd tonnes 150-200 meter in the air with less than .5 degree of sway in a 25 Kph breeze?


I agree with Slowburn about Flipider Dot Comm's empirical evidence. Flipider you really do need more than a couple of pics and a video of 'a' windmill self destructing to be taken seriously. However I am curious Slowburn, do you know how big a ship is required to base a windmill that size in those wind conditions?


We know that the Fukushima event caused the Japanese to question the course of their own energy develoment. My thoughts are that perhaps they might be interested in providing off shore wind generation for their own nation in order to gradually help replace their nuclear energy component. Japan consists of islands and must have good sources of off-shore winds. It would make sense.

Adrian Akau

or have said windfarm off Hawaii alone for powering Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Waimea & for tourism & for aquaculture, multi use site.

Stephen Russell

re; hellno187

An engineer at a wind-energy company told me for a 2.5 meg windmill you need a ship of about 50000 DWT the top end of the Handymax class. however the shape is different.


One of the most important concepts regarding wind power is "capacity factor". This is how much the wind blows. In Nantucket Sound the capacity factor is 24%. CapeWind is really a 110 MW plant. For reference, electric demand in New England is often more than 20,000 MW. The Walney Wind Farm in the UK has a 43% capacity factor resulting in 158 MW output built for $1 billion, much less than CapeWind. CapeWind is an ugly joke to be built on Indian graves to trash beautiful Cape Cod Cape Cod beauty is the Cape Cod economy


The capacity factor averages about 25 percent depending on the site, the higher the better obviously. it´s all matter of perspective and benefits. Compare that to the capacity factor of Solar PV which is 15%.

If you compare both options on investment returns, solar PV tends to be favoured over wind power if you account for depreciation.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

The whole of the United States is built on Indian graves.

Ed Campbell

whatever happened to wave generators...

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