Despite 16 US offshore wind projects in the pipeline, strained resources at BOEM are slowing the approval process
Economic activity generated by offshore wind development could provide a massive boost to the US post-pandemic economy, amounting to US$25Bn annually before 2030.
Led by commitments of 9 GW in New York and 7.5 GW in New Jersey, states from Massachusetts to North Carolina along the US east coast have been solidly behind the development of offshore wind. Other opportunities for floating wind in California are also moving forward.
Speaking at the IPF Virtual conference on offshore wind in April, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) renewable energy programme manager Jim Bennett said that the 16 commercial leases issued by BOEM, in combination with aggressive renewable energy goals by states and offtake deals, have created “a tremendous market opportunity”. Mr Bennett said BOEM is reviewing seven construction and operations plans and expects to receive another five before the end of the year.
“Over the course of the decade,” said Mr Bennett, “we are looking at 12 to 15 more projects representing a massive amount of economic activity, in the neighbourhood of US$25Bn per year by the end of the decade.”
One of the immediate challenges for the agency, said Mr Bennett, “is keeping up with plan approvals and permitting and ensuring robust and informed environmental analyses.”
IPF Business Network president Liz Burdock added: “We have asked Congress to fund BOEM at an even greater level than the President’s budget, giving them more staff and resources to get this permitting process moving.” Ms Burdock pointed out that there are seven construction and operations plans (COPs) and another three to five expected over the next 18 months that could be developed by 2026.
Said Ms Burdock: “We could close out the decade with 18 GW of offshore wind, quickly catching up to Europe if we can get the permitting moving. We’re ready to go.”
WSP vice president, offshore wind manager Matthew Palmer agreed that offshore wind development will be an increasingly important part of the US energy picture.
“Offshore wind can play an important role in post-Covid-19 economic recovery,” said Mr Palmer. “Our engineers are working right now to design facilities to be installed in the US. That economic boost could come at a very timely moment for the US economy.”
Specifically, Mr Palmer pointed to the demonstration project in Virginia that will have ‘first steel’ in the water in H1 2020. Being developed by state utility Dominion Energy, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) demonstration project will see the installation of two 6-MW wind turbines on a site 43 km off Virginia Beach. A subsea power cable will bring the clean energy ashore through a 1,000-m conduit installed under the beach.
Construction of the project’s two turbines will begin when an installation vessel arrives from Europe bearing the foundation pieces. Germany’s EEW Special Pipe Constructions loaded out the first monopile foundations and transition pieces at the Port of Rostock for CVOW in April. Once work on the turbine substructures is complete, the vessel will depart to pick up additional components to install the turbines.
Danish renewable company Ørsted has been selected by Dominion Energy to install both wind turbines and is making preparations to support the work out of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Ørsted has leased a portion of the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to use for offshore wind staging materials and equipment. Under the deal with the port, Ørsted will lease 0.7 ha at the terminal through 2026, with options to expand to an additional 16 ha. If fully executed, the agreement will yield US$13M in lease payments and result in US$20M in investments to the site for cranes and improvements to the terminal’s berth, to ensure heavy load capacity. The state is investing US$40M to upgrade the terminal to create an offshore wind supply chain and service hub for the US east coast.
Dominion Energy will use the CVOW project to gain valuable experience in managing offshore wind resources. As CVOW is the first offshore windfarm installed in US federal waters under the BOEM process, it will provide critical permitting, design, installation and operational experience.
This will help create supply chains to support offshore wind and further inform development for large-scale commercial wind deployment in the adjacent Virginia Wind Energy Area, leased by Dominion Energy from BOEM.
Plans call for an US$8Bn, 2,600-MW windfarm, the largest single offshore wind project in the US. Development will be in three phases, each of which will involve the installation of about 70 turbines with a capacity of 880 MW.
Pending regulatory approval, the first phase is expected to begin delivery of renewable energy in 2024, with additional phases coming online in 2025 and 2026.
CVOW underpins Virginia’s commit to 100% renewable power generation by 2050. In April, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, putting the state on a path to 100% carbon-free power from renewable energy by 2050. The act provides that 5,200 MW of offshore wind generation is “in the public interest”.
Benefitting from the European experience
CVOW and other US offshore windfarms will benefit from lessons learned from the European experience and rapid advances in technology, said Mr Palmer. Current generation wind turbines have capacities of 10 MW, while next generation turbines will have capacities of 12 MW. By contrast, Rhode Island’s Block Island Windfarm, which began operations in 2016, has five 6-MW wind turbines.
Ørsted will bring its European wind experience to the US market. The Danish energy firm is involved in the development of New Jersey’s 1,100-MW Ocean Wind project and has partnered with New England utility Eversource on New York’s 880-MW Sunrise Wind and Revolution Wind in Connecticut and Rhode Island. New York’s 816-MW Empire Wind is owned by Norway’s Equinor, while Spain’s Avangrid is developing the Kitty Hawk windfarm in North Carolina.
|Atlantic OCS Renewable Energy: projects in the pipeline|
|Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot||Dominion Energy, DMME, Ørsted|
|South Fork||Deepwater Wind|
|Vineyard Wind I||Vineyard Wind|
|Revolution Wind||Deepwater Wind|
|Skipjack Windfarm||Deepwater Wind|
|Bay State Wind||Bay State Wind|
|US Wind||US Wind|
|Sunrise Wind||Ørsted, Eversource|
|Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial||Dominion Energy|
|Park City Wind||Park City Wind|
|Mayflower Wind||Mayflower Wind|
|Atlantic Shores||Atlantic Shores|
|OCS-A 0522||Vineyard Wind|
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