TotalEnergies, Avangrid, Hexicon Eyeing Gulf of Maine for Their Next (Floating) Offshore Wind Bids
Gulf of Maine, whose US waters lie off the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, has already attracted several (floating) offshore wind developers as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) continues its process towards designating Wind Energy Areas which will be put up for a lease sale in 2024.
After BOEM issued a Request for Interest (RFI) in the Federal Register in August, the federal agency received nominations of areas of interest from Avangrid Renewables, TotalEnergies, Hexicon, Mainstream Renewable Power, and Pine Tree Offshore Wind (a consortium comprising the State of Maine, the University of Maine, and a joint venture between Diamond Offshore Wind and RWE Renewables).
The areas of interest nominated by the Pine Tree Offshore Wind consortium – which is behind the Maine Research Array floating wind project for which a lease application was submitted last year – are located in the vicinity of the proposed site for that project.
Mainstream Renewable Power also nominated specific areas, the biggest one being offshore Boston, Massachusetts, while Avangrid, TotalEnergies, and floating wind technology developer Hexicon expressed interest in the broader area of Gulf of Maine within the one that was initially delineated in the RFI.
Through the RFI, for which the response period closed in October 2022, BOEM sought feedback from stakeholders, industry, Tribes, and others regarding the location and size of specific areas they wish to be included in, or excluded from, a future offshore wind energy lease sale, along with other planning considerations.
Following the feedback received during the public comment period and industry nominations on the RFI, as well as spatial analysis advanced in partnership with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Center for Coastal and Ocean Science (NCCOS), BOEM has reduced the original RFI area by about 27 per cent, from about 13.7 million acres to 9.9 million acres.
With the Draft Call Area now outlined, BOEM has launched a new round of consultations to solicit feedback on the area and next steps for the Gulf of Maine.
BOEM is also continuing to review any submissions provided in response to the Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI), also published in August 2022 as the next step in processing the State of Maine’s application for a research lease.
The RFCI Area covers 68,320 acres and expands upon Maine’s requested research lease area to allow future siting flexibility to avoid or minimise conflicts with existing ocean users should a lease, either research or commercial, be issued.
According to earlier information on the process at BOEM regarding this area, only a project that is approximately the size of Maine’s research lease proposal and provides a conceptual framework for addressing the research priorities identified in the RFCI will have the potential to move forward.
Looking at the timelines the US Department of the Interior (DOI) published back in 2021, the Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Maine are set to be designated by the fourth quarter of this year and the lease sale is planned for 2024.
CORRECTION NOTE: The initial article said in the first paragraph that the lease sale for the Gulf of Maine was planned for later this year and was amended to say the lease sale is scheduled to be held in 2024, as stated further in the article.
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