NREL: Oregon Could See Billions from Floating Wind Farms

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The US state of Oregon’s gross domestic product (GDP) could increase by USD 9.9 billion through a cumulative installation of 5,500 megawatts (MW) of floating wind capacity between 2020 and 2050, according to a report by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) commissioned NREL to analyze two hypothetical, large-scale deployment scenarios for Oregon: 5,500 MW of offshore wind deployment in Oregon by 2050, and 2,900 MW of offshore wind by 2050.

For each of the two scenarios, NREL examined two sets of values for the Oregon content, meaning that in one case, there is more Oregon labor and there are more Oregon parts and equipment.

Results from examining two sets of local content values show that the estimated economic impacts vary greatly depending upon the local labor and equipment used for the offshore wind energy projects and supply chain.

According to the analysis, deploying 5,500 MW of floating offshore wind in Oregon and assuming a modest in-state supply chain could support between USD 4.6 billion and USD 5.7 billion in construction-phase economic activity to Oregon’s GDP between 2020 and 2050. This capacity could also support between 65,000 and 97,000 job-years for the same period.

The floating wind farms within this scenario would add a total of USD 2.2 billion to USD 3.2 billion in operations-phase additional state GDP during the analysis period. In the post-analysis period, the wind farms would bring USD 250 million to USD 350 million annually and secure over 2,300–3,400 ongoing O&M jobs, according to the report.

One key finding from this work is the sensitivity of the results to the magnitude of the in-state supply chain, the study shows. Establishing an in-state supply chain that can provide even a modest portion of the material and labor for floating offshore wind installations would dramatically increase the economic impact of offshore wind deployment within the state.

Higher levels of spending made by developers and operators within Oregon could support greater gross economic impacts, and higher levels of manufacturing in Oregon could significantly increase the jobs and other economic development impacts.

These impacts would grow further to the extent that Oregon-based suppliers export goods and services out of state.

Improvements in technologies, manufacturing processes, and O&M practices, as well as policy changes and growth in domestic and international markets, among other factors, could significantly impact the development of offshore wind projects in Oregon.

Given Oregon’s strong offshore wind resources, regardless of the specific technology or local content, there is a strong potential for economic development and employment from offshore wind in Oregon, assuming projects are sited appropriately and operate as expected, NREL said in the report.

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