Source: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
The offshore wind industry expects to rapidly branch out from its European epicenter and there’s one market that has charged ahead to claim the pole position in this race: the United States.
Solicitations already underway on the U.S. East Coast and the ambitious renewables targets being implemented in more and more states mean the country is on the cusp of an offshore building boom, industry executives said at the Global Offshore Wind conference in London on June 25.
“We are surprised by the speed of the U.S.,” said Philippe Kavafyan, CEO of turbine maker MHI Vestas Offshore Wind A/S, a joint venture between Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. “Over the last 12, 15 months, the U.S. went from a potential market into the first large-scale commercial project…and now we’re already talking about 20 GW,” Kavafyan said. “That’s only slightly less than we have in the world today.”
Almost all of the roughly 20 GW in installed offshore wind capacity is in Europe, led by early moving countries like the U.K. and Germany that have built up extensive supply chains. But while those two countries remain the largest single markets for future offshore projects, the U.S. has overtaken both China and Taiwan over the past 12 months to become the number three, according to industry association RenewableUK. According to the group, there is now a development pipeline of 15.7 GW in the U.S., out of 121 GW planned or under construction worldwide.
As of March, the slate of planned projects in the U.S. had already grown to almost 14 GW of offshore capacity through 2027, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis — a rough doubling in planned capacity since October 2018.
Altogether, states on the East Coast have already committed to procuring more than 23 GW of offshore wind capacity between them. Although the offshore industry faces a long list of challenges, ranging from needed transmission grid upgrades to the formation of a U.S.-based supply chain, Equinor’s head of renewables said that the closely watched decision of New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities was a promising starting shot.