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October 23, 2013
The Energy Department today released a new report showing progress for the U.S. offshore wind energy market in 2012, including the completion of two commercial lease auctions for federal Wind Energy Areas and 11 commercial-scale U.S. projects representing over 3,800 megawatts (MW) of capacity reaching an advanced stage of development. Further, the report highlights global trends toward building offshore turbines in deeper waters and using larger, more efficient turbines in offshore wind farms, increasing the amount of electricity delivered to consumers.
This year’s U.S. Offshore Wind Market and Economic Analysis, authored by the Navigant Consortium for the Energy Department, builds on last year’s report, providing additional information on offshore wind’s potential to add to U.S. electricity capacity and create jobs, as well as outlining policy developments that influence the sector. This report, along with other offshore wind R&D projects that began in 2011 and advanced technology demonstration projects announced in 2012, are part of the Department’s national offshore wind strategy, supporting the development of a suite of tools and advanced engineering prototypes that can assist offshore wind project developers and industry stakeholders.
The offshore wind market assessment report will be updated and published annually for a three-year period, providing stakeholders with a reliable and consistent data source. Over time, it will also inform development of a road map for accelerating development and increasing U.S. competitiveness in the offshore wind market.
The 2013 report’s key findings include:
Eleven offshore wind projects representing 3,824 MW of capacity are currently in an advanced stage of development in the United States, which includes projects that have at least signed a power purchase agreement, received approval for an interim or commercial lease in state or federal waters, or conducted baseline or geophysical studies at the proposed site.
Globally, offshore wind development continues to move farther from shore into increasingly deeper waters; parallel increases in turbine sizes and hub heights are contributing to higher efficiencies (capacity factors).
The average turbine size for advanced-stage, planned projects in the United States is expected to range between 4 and 5 MW, which is larger than turbines being used in land-based applications.
Developers continue to test a variety of platform and foundation types as the industry seeks to address deeper waters, varying seabed conditions, increasing turbine sizes, and the increased severity of wind and wave loading at offshore wind projects.
The main challenges faced by U.S. offshore wind developers are cost-competitiveness, a lack of infrastructure such as offshore transmission and purpose-built ports and vessels, and uncertain and lengthy regulatory processes.
Transmission infrastructure projects that saw progress in 2013 included the Atlantic Wind Connection and the New Jersey Energy Link.