The U.S. has so far lagged behind Europe and Asia in offshore wind development, but experts say there’s an opportunity to take the lead in floating offshore wind.
The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) highlighted the U.S. in a recent report for its potential to capitalize on the next round of floating offshore wind growth, which globally is still a nascent technology. However, the U.S. will only be able to take advantage of the floating-offshore wind market if it has the right policies and investments.
The following events will take place on April 13th: RENEWABLE+ Series features industry leaders, advocates, and regulators as part of a free webcast on “Floating offshore wind: How the U.S. can take the lead.” This session will explore the floating offshore wind potential along the U.S. Pacific Coast ahead of upcoming lease auctions for the rights to develop waters off California and Oregon.
Register for free: here.
This session is presented and hosted by:
- Jonah Margulis is Senior Vice President for US Operations Aker Offshore Wind
- Necy sumait, Regional Supervisor Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
- Adam Stern, Executive director California Offshore Wind
- Antoine Pfeiffer is Vice President Engineering Principle Power
The RENEWABLE+ Series on April 13th will also explore lessons learned from Winter Storm Uri for wind power generators in the session “Texas takeaways: Improving weather resilience in wind power generation.” Hear from industry experts from GE Renewable Energy, Enel, and Axis Capital. Register now for a free place to register.
Why the U.S.
The GWEC highlighted the U.S.’s floating offshore wind potential, which it said is supported by renewable energy targets and favorable government policies.
The Biden administration has set a goal to develop 30 GW offshore wind by 2030. The fixed-bottom offshore wind industry is blossoming along the U.S. East Coast, demonstrated by the recent $4.37 billion lease auction for development rights off New York and New Jersey.
GWEC noted that government support is the single-most-important factor for the growth of the floating offshore wind industry. The federal Investment Tax Credit gives offshore wind projects that start development before 2026 a 30% credit, which could be a significant advantage for the U.S. markets. An extension to the ITC was included in the now-stalled Build Back Better Act.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is equipped to manage floating offshore wind lease management as well as fixed-bottom development.
The report stated that floating offshore wind technologies offer opportunities for development in unreachable areas off California, Oregon, or the Gulf Coast.
BOEM is conducting environmental assessments of offshore wind areas in Northern and Central California. In September, auctions will be held for the rights to develop these waters.
According to California State Lands Commission, “floating offshore wind is the most suitable technology” to harness offshore wind energy along the California coast due to the depths of the waters.
The Morro Bay Wind Energy Area’s development capacity is 3 GW, while Humboldt Bay Wind Energy Area supports 1.6 GW. Both areas average wind speeds of 9 m/s.
However, the floating offshore wind market in the USA faces challenges in the form supply chain and electric grid constraints.
According to the report, Humboldt Bay can support approximately 150 MW more capacity without requiring significant grid upgrades. The impending retirement from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will make Morro bay in Central California less constrained.
The U.S. floating offshore wind market is expected rely heavily on Europe and Asia for supply chain support. The GWEC report estimated that vessel availability is likely to present a “major bottleneck” in the U.S. due to the Jones Act, which prevents non-U.S. built vessels from operating on offshore wind projects.