Starting in 2004, a number of events lead up to bringing offshore wind energy to Lake Erie. Since, regional collaboration and investment has allowed the initiative to gain significant traction and momentum in becoming a reality. The following timeline will give a better indication of the significant measures and milestones that have helped Ohio realize its economic viability in capturing the emerging offshore wind industry in the Great Lakes - a region with rich offshore wind resources.
- Born in Euclid, Cleveland-based engineer Charles Brush built what is today believed to be the first automatically operating wind turbine for electricity generation. Stationed in Cleveland, the specifications of this massive turbine included a 50-foot rotor and 144 blades, generating a whopping 12 kilowatts (kW). The windmill reportedly lasted for 20 years, until 1909.
- NASA’s Glenn Research Center based in Cleveland, paved the way for large horizontal-axis wind turbines (used today). This time a 100-kW turbine at Plum Brook Station in Sandusky appeared on the horizon. By 1981 NASA’s research gained international acclaim as it improved to 3.2 megawatts (MW), a world record until several years ago. Despite its progress, the program was abandoned by the U.S. government.
- AWS Truewind, the country’s leading wind resource assessment company, was commissioned to assess wind resources on Lake Erie.
- Wind-measuring equipment installed on the water intake crib offshore downtown Cleveland to confirm wind quality.
- Installation of utility-scale wind turbine at Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center draws local attention to wind energy.
- Cuyahoga County forms the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force (GLEDTF) to promote advanced energy in Northern Ohio for economic development and environmental improvement.
- Initial report by GLEDTF notes that offshore wind is potentially viable as a regional economic development engine, and recommends commissioning a more detailed feasibility study.
- RFP and juwi group selected for feasibility study of potential 20 MW project offshore downtown Cleveland near water intake crib (where wind measuring devices are installed).
- Case Western Reserve University becomes part of GLEDTF and partially funds the feasibility study.
- Passage of Ohio S.B. 221 containing requirements that 12.5% of Ohio’s electricity supply in 2025 mu st come from renewable energy sources.
- Expansion of Great Lakes WIND Network helps raise the visibility of regional wind manufacturing supply chain.
- Installation of a LIDAR system to measure wind speed and compare with MET tower wind speed readings. LIDAR system validated the readings from the MET tower.
- Extensive feasibility study results released by the GLEDTF confirms environmental and technical viability of offshore wind on Lake Erie.
- Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) is created by Cuyahoga County, Lorain County, City of Cleveland, NorTech Energy Enterprise, and the Cleveland Foundation to promote regionally consistent development of offshore wind energy markets along the Northern Ohio coastline of Lake Erie.
- Installation of equipment on the lake bottom near the water intake crib offshore downtown Cleveland to measure ice during winters.
- Conducted wildlife studies (via Ohio Department of Natural Resources guidance), lake-bottom studies (foundation engineering), and began a deployment assessment of Ohio's ports/infrastructure.
- Selected General Electric (GE) as the preferred turbine supplier creating a partnership for evaluating supply-chain opportunities within Ohio.
- Economic impact study commissioned by NorTech to assess potential job creation associated with emergence of an Ohio-driven offshore wind industry.
- A developer team is selected comprised of Bechtel, Great Lakes Wind Energy, and Cavallo Energy.
- Obtained a Lease Option from the State of Ohio (ODNR) giving LEEDCo exclusive rights to the proposed site while continuing extensive testing for optimal turbine placement.
- Reached a Revenue Sharing Agreement with LEEDCo member counties; Ashtabula, Lake, Lorain, & Cuyahoga (Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority).
- 2011 TeamNEO Award – Intergovernmental Collaboration
- 2011 University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio Partnership Recognition Award
- LEEDCo & Freshwater Wind worked on several federal offshore wind grants helping bring $1.2 million back to Ohio, with a $500,000 project-specific grant for cost reductions on Icebreaker.
- In just 2011, LEEDCo was featured in 45 unique news articles, including radio and television.
- December 2012, LEEDCo awarded $4 million by the Department of Energy (DOE) as 1 of only 7 winners from over 60 competitors for its offshore wind demonstration project program.
- February 2013, LEEDCo hosts project partner meeting in Cleveland to officially launch first phase of the project. Engineering, permitting, and research efforts begin in earnest.
- May 2013, LEEDCo employs 90-foot jack-up barge to perform pressure tests and soil samples at the project site in Lake Erie.
- May 2013, LEEDCo begins to promote the Power Pledge as a way for supporters to say they want to get a portion of their electricity from Icebreaker.
- November 2014, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier joins the LEEDCo team as installation partner. Begins to develop installation strategy for Icebreaker and future offshore wind projects in the Great Lakes.
- December 2014, LEEDCo finalizes $2.8 million cooperative agreement with U.S. Department of Energy to optimize offshore wind foundation design for U.S. fabrication. Funding allows LEEDCo to complete the detailed engineering design.
- April 2015, Erie County, Pennsylvania joins LEEDCo as political subdivision member. Effort to establish Lake Erie as central hub of the U.S. offshore wind industry becomes a multi-state endeavor.
- Spring 2018, fabrication, construction, and installation of offshore wind project begins
- Fall 2018, LEEDCo commissions North America's first freshwater offshore wind project
- Utilitiy scale projects in Lake Erie begin and a new industry is born.