A report by the Business Network for Offshore Wind argues that US states on both coasts need to collaborate, not just compete, in order to address common challenges
A report by the Business Network for Offshore Wind argues that US states on both coasts need to collaborate, not just compete, in order to address common challenges such as grid connection and transmission.
The report addresses challenges that states on the east and west coast of the US face, including supply chain uncertainties, demonstrating to ratepayers that offshore wind is a low-cost source of electricity and the limitation of certain US resources, such as ports.
Produced with the help of around 100 offshore wind experts from the US and other countries, the Leadership 100 report makes a number of recommendations to industry and elected officials.
Business network president and chief executive officer Liz Burdock said, “From Massachusetts to Virginia, the US is on track to create an offshore wind industry exceeding 10 GW by 2030. We need American intelligence and team-building to create a homegrown offshore wind industry.
“States such as Massachusetts and New York are working to build an industry. They are competing with other US states and, rightly so, but they must also co-operate to minimise public costs, share resources and globalise what the US has to offer.”
Three priority areas have emerged. The network’s executive vice president said the report focuses on developing an industry road map; recommendations for offshore wind states on advancing grid and transmission projects; and launching public engagement campaigns.
Mr Tyler said much of the supply chain in offshore wind is international. US projects and their supply chains are competing against Asia and Europe for resources. The US has unique challenges and constraints when compared with both Asia and Europe. An industry roadmap can help US developers and government entities identify the country’s supply chain capacity and its assets, strengths, gaps and resources. The report also found that the roadmap will support regional port strategies and technical explanations for special scalable solutions, co-operation on workforce issues, and insights on local supply chain development.
Along with Massachusetts’ interest in a 1.6-GW offshore windfarm, New York’s plan to increase its commitment of 2.4 GW to 9.0 GW accelerates the need to quickly address electricity delivery and grid integration. Currently, said the network, the northeast grid can accept 4.0 GW of power. Its ability to take more than 4.0 GW is uncertain.
Mr Tyler said states will need to build the infrastructure to allow many more GW on the grid. The report said new models, including ground-breaking, disruptive policy, should be explored to expand energy generation and transmission capacity.
“If the problem is not addressed soon, the offshore wind market could be held back, and policymakers’ clean energy targets may slip,” said Mr Tyler. “We need to communicate the risks of not acting. We need to incentivise state officials to build the infrastructure that will allow GW of offshore wind energy to be injected into the grid. States and the private sector need to enter into constructive dialogue to discuss the grid/transmission strategy.” Once these problems are resolved, overall costs for ratepayers can be reduced, the report found.
The report also found that an updated US Department of Energy study is needed for the northeast of the country, where most offshore wind is being developed. New data is needed to inform conversations with local, state and federal officials. Also needed is a public outreach campaign that focuses on the positive impact of offshore wind on the environment and the economy and how cost-effective it is.
The report also highlighted that environmental and visual impacts can weigh heavily on public support of offshore wind projects. They can slow market momentum unless they are proactively addressed.
In a recent study published in Energy Policy, researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Rhode Island set out to examine public attitudes toward offshore wind development and found some concerns, such as its potential effect on wildlife and its impact on the recreation and fishing industries. The report argued that the public should be informed about the commercial benefit of offshore wind, jobs creation, how it can reduce power costs and protect the environment.