Top 5 Takeaways from American Clean Power’s Offshore Windpower Conference and Exhibition 2021
At a Glance
Being one of the 1,050 in-person ACP Offshore Windpower 2021 conference attendees this October, showed how much has changed since we were last in person two years ago. ACP complied with the City of Boston’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and the conference was well attended. Here are some of the takeaways regarding the U.S. 2021 market status and 2030 outlook of the emerging and growing U.S. offshore wind energy industry.
- ACP’s U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Standards are nearly complete. Look for a set of five recommended practices and guidelines to wrap up in the summer of 2022. These guidelines have been worked on by industry volunteers in five working groups since 2017. Developers and designers will soon have ANSI approved guidance documents with Recommended Practices summarizing procedures and positions representing the industry practices to know what is expected as a standard of care when working on offshore wind energy infrastructure projects in the U.S. for fixed and floating turbines, for subsea cables and for geophysical and geotechnical projects.
- The Biden Administration Goal for 30 GW of Offshore Wind Energy by 2030 is possible. From Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts to Laura Beane, President, Vestas NA to David Hardy, CEO, Orsted Offshore NA, and Deb Haaland, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the common theme was climate change is here and now’s the time to invest in offshore wind. Speakers were optimistic that the US can scale up the industry and accomplish a feat that took the global industry 30 years to achieve. This goal of the Biden Administration was compared to President Kennedy’s 1961 man on the moon commitment.
- Growth constraints for the industry are many but progress, changes and investments are coming. There was no agreement among presenters on what is the most significant growth constraint, but consensus was that several market growth constraints need to be solved in this decade.
- Permitting Efficiency - Rachel Pachter, Chief Development Officer, and Lars Thaaning Pedersen, CEO Vineyard Wind noted that the U.S. regulatory permitting process has evolved over the past 20 years, U.S. permitting is much different than Europe and Asia, and permitting efficiency must be improved using the lessons learned from the three wind farms approved by BOEM to date in Rhode Island, Virginia and Massachusetts. Speed bumps encountered and necessary for the cautious approval of the first offshore wind energy projects need to be smoothed out. BOEM is intent on changing the NEPA and COP permit process with guidance templates. Processes that ensure that stakeholders are listened to and have their questions answered are in place. Developers know that they need to share the ocean responsibly with a sustainable fishing industry, endangered North Atlantic Right Whales and other ocean users.
- Workforce Development - It will take significant efforts to create a diverse and inclusive workforce of marine contractors, port operations, manufacturing, engineering and construction estimated at 83,000 U.S. jobs created to build 30 GW of clean energy; but the states are beginning to advance significant workforce development investments.
- Port Development & Investment - The many, smaller ports located across many coastal states need significant infrastructure investment to increase the area of ports available for marshalling, manufacturing, assembly and staging offshore wind components. Several states have partnered with the federal government (DOE and DOT) and offshore wind developers to share in the large investments needed for port repairs and expansion as part of the clean energy procurement process. We need much more port funding than is currently available from the highly competitive DOT RAISE grants.
- Wind Energy Project Financing - Private financing is not a growth constraint. Lars Thaaning Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind noted that there was much more interest from private investors in financing the Vineyard Wind 1 Project in 2021 than a few years ago when the project was undergoing permitting.
- Clean Energy Grid Reliability -Planning and new policies for enabling new transmission, HVDC substations, and energy storage are needed to for the grid to accommodate more renewable energy sources. States in New England and beyond are advocating for policy and planning changes with FERC and Regional Transmission Organizations. New England is likely to lead the way for developing a new regional market model for the clean energy grid and decarbonization goals, but there is still much work ahead to prove it can be done reliably and affordably.
- Supply Chain -U.S. manufacturing is beginning for Tier 1,2 and 3 offshore wind energy components and Jones Act compliant vessels. Supply chain constraints are still in the early stages of being addressed on a project by project procurement basis by developers like Orsted and Vineyard Wind.
- Offshore Lease Auctions with BOEM are changing and more are coming. Amanda Lefton, Director of BOEM, indicated a proactive approach to lease sales will create up to 7 more offshore wind lease auctions by 2025. The participants in the auctions will benefit from advanced research on conflict areas prior to procurement. BOEM understands the need to act on climate change in a responsible way, using science, knowledge, and informed decisions to balance the needs of ocean users and create economic, social and environmental benefits as we transition to clean energy. BOEM is analyzing 25 lease areas for auction around the US and Ms. Lefton indicated perhaps even the Gulf of Mexico will be leased for offshore wind someday.
- The U.S can be a Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Leader and Exporter- Research funded by DOE is now advancing new floating turbine technologies on several projects planned in the deeper ocean waters of Maine, Massachusetts, and California. An industry- government- academic collaboration network is maturing in the U.S., positioning the U.S. as a leader in this global market effort to help commercialize floating offshore wind turbine technology. BOEM will soon be conducting lease auctions in California and Oregon and floating offshore wind energy projects are anticipated in the U.S. by 2030.
Learn more about GZA's offshore wind capabilities in our interactive PDF.