The US offshore wind market is expanding exponentially and the pipeline of projects there could soon far exceed even the most recent projections, industry leaders told delegates in the first webinar in Riviera Maritime Media’s Offshore Energy Webinar Week
Riviera Maritime Media’s webinar The US offshore wind boom: opportunities for vessel owners, designers and suppliers, examined America’s long-awaited offshore wind boom and what it means for the supply chain in the US and outside the country, and heard from Business Network for Offshore Wind president and chief executive Liz Burdock, National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) president Erik Milito, DNV head of communication Americas Sergio Garcia, Dominion Energy senior vice president construction Mark Mitchell, and Ulstein Design & Solutions marketing and sales manager Nick Wessels.
All of the industry leaders participating in the event were particularly optimistic about the prospects for offshore wind in the US, but it was Ms Burdock’s take on the market that aroused most attention.
Estimates of the pipeline of projects in the US keep growing and the Biden-Harris administration has committed to 30 GW of US offshore wind by 2030, but the pace at which the market in the US is developing means estimates of how large the American market will be are continually being revised.
“Here is my opinion based on what we are seeing,” Ms Burdock told OWJ shortly after the webinar, in which she stated that, in the longer term, post 2030, the US offshore wind market could exceed 100 GW.
“As always in the US, the offshore wind market is about the states. We know that 10 Governors have signed 100% clean energy or carbon neutral legislation.
“We know, however, that current commitments to procure 32 GW offshore wind energy generation will fall short of achieving 100% clean energy.
“Offshore wind is vital to achieving federal, state and corporate clean energy goals. When the state clean energy roadmaps are finally released, we expect to see many states calling for the doubling or tripling of their current commitments.
“New Jersey has already publicly stated that 7.5 GW is not enough and New York has said 9 GW is the floor not the ceiling.
“I expect Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia will all soon have bigger commitments too. Just last week, North Carolina’s Governor signed an executive order for 8 GW of offshore wind by 2040.
“For these reasons, I think that in the longer term, the market is actually 60-80 GW on the east coast. If you include North Carolina, we are already at 42 GW, but it is not codified into law.
“The industry can also expect the market to grow in the next few years through corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) driven by falling offshore wind price costs. We can expect the Biden administration to push corporations on climate reduction goals.
“As the US puts more steel in the water, we can expect corporate America to drive the offshore wind market in a similar way to how it has propelled solar and onshore wind markets. We haven’t even started talking green hydrogen yet and what that will do to the offshore wind market.
“For these reasons, I think the US market in total is going to be well over 100 GW and the true market size will be clearer by the end 2023.”
Analysing what growth in the market might mean for vessel owners, Mr Garcia said 30 GW by 2030 could create demand for as many as 18 service operation vessels; 20-30 crew transfer vessels; two to three more Jones Act wind turbine installation vessels in addition to vessels serving non-Jones Act installation ships; and up to seven specialised vessels such as cable-lay ships.
Mr Wessels emphasised that however many vessels are required in the US market in the next decade and beyond, they would need to be designed and built with a focus on decarbonisation and reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Interestingly, Mr Garcia said DNV is already involved in pilot projects for charging batteries on vessels while they are offshore.
Mr Mitchell said Dominion Energy filed a construction and operations plan to build the 2.64-GW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project – the largest planned offshore windfarm in the US – in December 2020 and is expecting notice of intent from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management by the end of June 2021. A record of decision for the projects is expected in 2023 with onshore construction to start in mid-2023 and offshore construction 2024-2026.
Mr Milito highlighted the beneficial effects the US offshore wind industry will have on many other sectors of the economy, not least US ports. He said the booming industry would boost investment in the supply chain, ports and described offshore wind as “a generational economic and energy opportunity, and one the Biden administration is seizing.”
A poll conducted during the webinar about what delegates see as the single most important factor for success operating in the US offshore wind market highlighted cost and safety.
Asked whether after learning more about the US offshore wind market, delegates were interested in entering this market, 98% of those attending said ‘yes.’
Participating in ‘The US offshore wind boom: opportunities for vessel owners, designers and suppliers,’ were (left to right) Nick Wessels, Ulstein Design & Solutions; Mark Mitchell, Dominion Energy; Erik Milito, National Ocean Industries Association; Liz Burdock, Business Network for Offshore Wind; and Sergio Garcia DNV.