Baryonyx ends Texas offshore lease

Baryonyx let expire a lease on Sunday for two Gulf of Mexico tracts in Texas waters facing South Padre Island where it wanted to develop America’s largest offshore wind project.

The developer made a final lease payment of $24,765 last 23 December to the Texas General Land Office (GLO), agency spokesman Jim Suydam tells Recharge.

The two sides finalized an initial lease for 19,794 acres (80.1sq km) in July 2009 for the proposed Rio Grande project. Baryonyx leased an additional 21,672 acres in August 2010 for the Rio Grande North project.  

“We collected $477,956 in total from Baryonyx for the Texas School Fund,” he says, referring to a permanent sovereign wealth fund. It serves to invest its assets to provide a return for funding public primary and secondary education in the state.

Baryonyx estimated that each site had the potential to accommodate a minimum 160 wind turbines totaling 1GW nameplate installed capacity. Water depths were a manageable 55 to 88 feet (17 to 27 meters).

By way of comparison, the first stage of Cape Wind - America’s first commercial-size offshore wind project - will be 363MW.

The Baryonyx plan called for multi-stage development using an upgraded version of quadripod foundations for the turbines such as those in place at the Ormond wind farm in the UK, a project in which company chief executive Ian Hatton was involved while heading Eclipse Energy.

The template for the big Texas projects was to have been an 18MW demonstration effort utilizing three Siemens 6MW direct-drive wind turbines. The Gulf Offshore Wind (GOWind) project was to have been located about six miles from South Padre Island.

It came undone when Baryonyx in May failed to win up to $47m in additional US Energy Department funding to deploy pilot offshore projects using innovative technologies by 2017. DOE selected three rival projects.

DOE also excluded Baryonyx from receiving a one-year, $3m research grant to help “de-risk” its project and to complete front-end engineering. Two other projects won grants.

Suydam lamented that Baryonyx shelved its offshore wind ambitions, noting that the decision was also likely a reflection of the Texas market where other forms of energy such as natural gas and ironically, onshore wind, are booming and in plentiful supply.