U.S. Offshore Wind Capacity to Hit Over 6 GW By 2030 -EIA

Developers are currently planning to install more than 6 gigawatts (GW) of offshore offshore wind capacity over the next seven years, with the bulk of the projects coming online in 2025, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory report.

The number would fall far short of the Biden Administration’s target of deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy production by 2030 unless developers add to the project pipeline.

Currently, the U.S. has only two commercial offshore wind farms; the 30-megawatt (MW) Block Island wind farm and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project with a current capacity of 12 MW, bringing the U.S. total to just 42 MW.

According to the EIA, developer and operators are planning offshore wind projects off the coasts of New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as on Lake Erie, near Cleveland, Ohio, which will help bring U.S. offshore wind capacity to more than 6 GW through 2029. For comparison, onshore the U.S. had more than 135 GW of net summer capacity, as of March 2022, and developers plan to add another 21 GW of onshore wind capacity through 2026, the EIA said.

The agency said offshore wind tends to operate at a higher capacity than onshore wind because of stronger and less variable wind speeds, however offshore wind power generation is generally more expensive and can only provide power to population centers in coastal areas.

Developing offshore wind projects requires a lease from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which has held several lease sales since 2013 (10 to be precise) for sites on the eastern seaboard from Massachusetts to North Carolina, resulting in 25 active commercial offshore wind leases issued by BOEm to date.

So far this year, BOEM has held two lease sales so far, including the Carolina Long Bay sale in May for waters off the Carolinas and the record-setting New York Bight sale in February which raised over $4.3 billion for six sites off New York and New Jersey. The Biden Administration is planning five more lease sales by 2025, including one proposed for waters off California later this year and others planned for Oregon, the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week, the Biden Administration launched a Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership with 11 East Coast states aimed at accelerating offshore wind development in the U.S. Coinciding with the launch, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced the designation of offshore wind vessels as “Vessels of National Interest”, a designation meant to catalyze the construction of much-needed offshore wind installation vessels at U.S. shipyards and prioritizes project applications for review and funding through the Title XI Federal Ship Financing Program (Title XI).

Constructing modern offshore wind farms requires specialized vessels, which the U.S. currently lacks, that can handle increasingly bigger and higher-capacity wind turbines and components.

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