Recent state-level commitments and advances in permitting and energy offtake processes have seen the US offshore wind project development pipeline exceed 25 GW, according to the US Department of Energy.
According to the Department of Energy, the pipeline reached 25.464 GW of planned generating capacity as of June 2018, with projects representing 2,000 MW expected to commence commercial operation by 2023. To put the potential of the fast-growing US market in perspective, the UK, the world’s leading adopter of offshore wind energy, currently has an installed base of around 7.5 GW.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory principle engineer Walt Musial said, “While many factors affect the US offshore wind market surge, state commitments to adopt offshore wind targets and their favourable procurement policies have accelerated US offshore wind market activity, primarily along the Atlantic coast.”
According to the department’s latest, newly-published offshore wind technology update, the US offshore wind industry ‘took a leap forward’ as several commercial-scale projects were selected for state-issued power purchase awards in 2018.
These included the first round of offshore wind solicitations in Massachusetts, which was awarded to the 800 MW Vineyard Wind project. In addition, Rhode Island selected Deepwater Wind’s 400 MW Revolution Wind proposal to support the state’s goal of adding 1,000 MW of renewables by 2020, and in Connecticut, an additional 200 MW of offshore wind capacity from Deepwater Wind’s Revolution Wind project was selected under the state’s clean energy request for proposals.
Other US states implemented dedicated energy procurement and offtake policies in 2017–2018. New York committed to 2.4 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. New Jersey increased its 2030 offshore wind commitment from 1.1 GW to 3.5 GW and directed the Board of Public Utilities to implement the state’s offshore renewable energy credit programme.
Four new offshore wind energy ‘call’ areas were identified in the New York Bight off the south coast of Long Island by the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The Department of the Interior also plans to auction the two unleased portions of the Massachusetts wind energy area in 2018.
Offshore wind industry developers are working with the US Department of Defense, BOEM, and the states of California and Hawaii to ensure that future offshore wind developments are compatible with military operations and training.
Researchers in the US are also evaluating floating substructure configurations to allow the siting of offshore wind turbines in deeper water, where roughly 60% of US offshore wind resource lies.
“With great strides seen along the Atlantic Coast, NREL continues to be a key supporter to the US offshore wind industry as it aims to expand beyond the northeastern US and into the Great Lakes, the southeast, the Gulf of Mexico, the deep waters off the Pacific and further into the Atlantic,” Mr Musial said.