While most of America’s offshore wind energy development to date has involved conventional turbines that are secured directly to the sea floor in shallow waters near the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, the deep-water areas further out in the ocean are actually home to two-thirds of America’s floating offshore wind energy potential, including along the West Coast and in the Gulf of Maine. Harnessing power over waters hundreds to thousands of feet deep requires turbines mounted to a floating foundation or platform that is anchored to the seabed with mooring lines. These installations are among the largest rotating machines ever constructed.
In fact, globally, only 0.1 GW of floating offshore wind has been deployed to date, compared with over 50 GW of fixed-bottom offshore wind.
Given this vast resource, the White House, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Sept. 15, 2022 the launch of coordinated initiatives to jump start the development of this emerging clean energy technology that will help the United States be a frontrunner in offshore wind power.
Guice Offshore (GO) works with offshore wind companies coast to coast.
“Our growing fleet of Jones Act-compliant, dynamically positioned offshore supply vessels, mini supply vessels and platform vessels is well positioned to help meet our nation’s conventional and floating offshore wind energy infrastructure installation and service goal deadlines, whether it’s crew transfer, service, cable laying, subsea work like scour protection or equipment transportation,” noted Guice Offshore Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Scheyd.
New Wind Resource Assessment Finds 2.8 Terawatts of Potential
- Read the August 22, 2022 NREL presentation “Offshore Wind Technical Potential for the Contiguous United States”
On September 15, 2022, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released an updated Offshore Wind Resource Assessment characterizing the nation’s vast offshore wind energy potential. This latest assessment considers technology advancements and the improving economics of offshore wind energy in more moderate resource sites and in deeper waters resulting in a notable increase relative to prior work.
Assuming 60 meters represents a maximum water depth for fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines, the assessment identifies 1.5 terawatts in technical resource potential from fixed-bottom wind farms and 2.8 terawatts from floating wind farms across eight geographic areas in the contiguous United States. This represents regional and national opportunities for offshore wind energy development.
Because marine environmental, jurisdictional, and socioeconomic considerations can influence the availability and leasing of offshore waters for wind energy development, this assessment accounts for areas that may be less suitable to develop due to existing infrastructure, environmental considerations (such as sensitive marine species and habitat), U.S. Department of Defense operations, and other constraints.
This project announcement supports the new Floating Offshore Wind Shot, which aims to drive U.S. leadership in floating offshore wind.
About the Floating Offshore Wind ShotTM and Accompanying Projects
Also on September 16, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined state officials to announce the following initiatives:
- New Floating Offshore Wind ShotTM to Lower Costs by 70 Percent: Through the Energy EarthshotTM program, the Administration will create a new Floating Offshore Wind Shot to accelerate breakthroughs across engineering, manufacturing, and other innovation areas. The Floating Offshore Wind Shot will aim to reduce the costs of floating technologies by more than 70 percent by 2035 to $45 per megawatt-hour.
- New Goal to Reach 15 GW by 2035: The Biden Administration will advance lease areas in deep waters in order to deploy 15 GW of floating capacity by 2035—building on the President’s existing goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, which will be largely met using fixed-bottom technology.
- Research & Development Investments: To support these goals, this week the Administration launched a new prize competition for floating platform technologies; initiatives funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to develop modeling tools for project design and to analyze port needs; and other funding for research, development, and demonstration efforts.
These new goals, initiatives, and investments focus on floating technologies and build on the Administration’s all-of-government approach to developing offshore wind while advancing environmental justice, protecting biodiversity, and promoting ocean co-use. Through the Inflation Reduction Act, clean energy tax credits will further accelerate this new American industry and a thriving domestic supply chain, with support for Made in America wind turbine blades, fixed-bottom and floating platforms, installation vessels, and more.
NEW FLOATING OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY EARTHSHOT
The Floating Offshore Wind Shot is an initiative led by the Departments of Energy (DOE), Interior (DOI), Commerce, and Transportation. The DOE and the National Science Foundation will also collaborate on research and workforce development in support of the Floating Offshore Wind Shot.
Achieving the $45 per megawatt-hour cost target will require focused research, development, and demonstration to catalyze continued cost reductions, with a focus on manufacturing, engineering, and continued increases of offshore wind turbine capacity. Agencies will also continue collaborating to develop the robust domestic supply chain and transmission infrastructure needed to accelerate floating as well as fixed-bottom offshore wind.
The Floating Offshore Wind Shot will promote ocean co-use, protect biodiversity, and advance environmental justice—including by making sure the benefits of offshore wind deployment reach underserved communities, in support of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. This new target is part of DOE’s Energy EarthshotsTM initiative to tackle key remaining technical challenges to reaching U.S. climate goals. In addition to harnessing untapped potential for generating clean electricity, floating offshore wind will also support economy-wide decarbonization, including by using its output for co-generation of clean fuels and energy storage.
NEW FLOATING OFFSHORE WIND DEPLOYMENT GOAL
The DOI also announced a new goal to deploy 15 GW of installed floating capacity by 2035—enough clean energy to power over five million American homes. The DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will advance lease areas in deep waters for floating technology, starting with a lease auction off the coast of California by the end of 2022. Achieving this ambitious target is expected to spur billions of dollars of economic opportunities and avoid an estimated 26 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually.
Bringing floating technology to scale will unlock new opportunities for offshore wind power off the coasts of California and Oregon, in the Gulf of Maine and beyond. Tapping into these resources is expected to expand clean American energy supplies and contribute significantly to achieving climate goals set by the President and Governors across the country. States, Tribes, coastal communities, and ocean users will continue to play a key role throughout the process to ensure that in meeting America’s climate goals by creating good-paying union jobs and support economic opportunities in local and underserved communities.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT INVESTMENTS
To support these ambitious new goals, the DOE announced nearly $50 million—including support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—for research, development, and demonstration funding:
- Floating Offshore Wind Readiness Prize: This week, DOE announced a $6.85 million prize competition that challenges competitors to optimize floating platform technologies and work to get them ready for wide-scale domestic manufacturing and commercialization.
- Floating Offshore Wind Array Design Project: DOE announced a $3 million project funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to develop a set of modeling tools to help industry and researchers design commercial-scale floating wind farm arrays in U.S. waters, including their anchors, mooring lines, and subsea power cables.
- West Coast Ports Analysis: DOE announced a nearly $1 million project funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reduce key infrastructure challenges by outlining a network of West Coast ports and upgrades needed to deploy commercial-scale floating infrastructure.
- West Coast Transmission Analysis: DOE announced an analysis to review existing transmission studies and identify research gaps related to offshore wind integration in California, Oregon, and Washington. This work will help inform future analysis efforts that will aid in transmission planning and buildout.
- Atlantis II: DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) intends to announce $31 million in funding through phase two of its Aerodynamic Turbines, Lighter and Afloat, with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program. The ATLANTIS program focuses on novel forms of systems engineering for floating systems to drive down costs. This second phase of the ATLANTIS program will focus on experimental testing in ocean, lake, and tank and tunnel environments to further develop new technology for floating offshore wind turbines.
- Environmental Research Award: DOE and BOEM announced a $1.6 million project to support coexistence of floating offshore wind with bats on the West Coast of the United States.
- Ocean Co-Use and Transmission Research Awards: The National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium, a partnership established with funding from DOE and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, announced five projects totaling $3.5 million to facilitate ocean area coexistence with marine mammals and fishing and to support offshore wind transmission for both fixed-bottom and floating technologies.