US Launches Offshore Wind Supply Chain Study

A project developing a comprehensive study of the US offshore wind supply chain was launched on 13 May.

The project is a partnership between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the State of Maryland, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and will be carried out by NREL, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, and DNV GL.

The comprehensive study is a combination of two projects with USD 400,000 in funding from the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC) and USD 300,000 from Maryland.

The purpose of the project is to put together a Supply Chain Roadmap which will present the collective benefits of a domestic supply chain and facilitate the acceleration of the offshore wind industry in the United States.

“Building a domestic offshore wind supply chain is a key step in achieving the cost reductions, economic development, and sustainable industry needed to meet DOE’s goal of 30 GW by 2030”, said Matt Shields, Senior Offshore Wind Analyst at NREL. “This project will help the United States leverage existing manufacturing and workforce capabilities to grow a network of domestic suppliers”.

The Business Network for Offshore Wind will gather data through its Supply Chain Connect tool, a database used by developers to search for suppliers and by vendors to introduce themselves to industry. The Network, NREL, and DNV GL will then evaluate this updated database to prepare a detailed analysis of resources and gaps of current suppliers and characterise the benefits of a domestic supply chain that leverages these existing strengths.

Results of the study will be shared broadly and will set an important baseline for determining and planning for US supply chain needs, said NOWRDC. Initial results from the gaps study will be available in Fall 2021 and the full report will be released by the end of 2022.

“Offshore wind will be an important element of meeting President Biden’s goal to achieve a 100% clean energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050”, said Kelly Speakes-Backman, DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “This project will help us develop a robust domestic offshore wind supply chain that will support tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and spur significant national and regional economic growth”.

The US offshore wind target of 30 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030 is said to support around 77,000 direct and indirect jobs and trigger more than USD 12 billion (around EUR 10.2 billion) per year in capital investment in projects on both US coasts. More than 44,000 people are expected to be employed in offshore wind by 2030, with nearly 33,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity.

Photo: Dominion Energy/Illustration