Half of US Offshore Wind Pipeline at Risk of Delays Beyond 2030 – Report

Half of the US offshore wind energy projects in the pipeline are at risk of being delayed beyond 2030 because of limited port and vessel infrastructure and domestic manufacturing, according to a new report co-authored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Business Network for Offshore Wind.

The US has set the target of reaching 30 GW of operating offshore wind capacity by 2030. Currently, the country has 42 MW of offshore wind capacity in operation.

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Billions of dollars need to be invested to develop domestic manufacturing, ports, vessels, and workforce if the target is to be met, according to the report, A Supply Chain Road Map for Offshore Wind Energy in the United States.

This includes a USD 22 billion investment in port upgrades, large installation vessels, and manufacturing facilities to develop a domestic supply chain that can supply 4–6 GW of projects per year, the report states.

Further investments are needed in support vessels, workforce training, and supporting supply chain expansion. With this, the necessary supply chain could be developed in six to nine years, the report projects.

Additional development will likely be required after 2030 as floating offshore wind energy becomes more prevalent.

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In order to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, the US will need 2,100 wind turbines and foundations, and 6,800 miles of cables, according to the report.

Four to six large installation vessels, four cable layers, two scour protection installation vessels, four to eight transport vessels, and four to six heavy-lift vessels will be needed to transport and install these turbines and cables.

Eleven service operation vessels and 58 crew transfer vessels are needed to help with the construction and the subsequent maintenance of the wind farms, the report states.

When it comes to the necessary components, the report has found that domestically manufactured components can be cost-competitive with imported components, but the United States will still need to import components to meet the 30 GW target as the domestic supply chain ramps up.

This domestic supply chain could create 10,000 full-time equivalent jobs in major-component manufacturing facilities by 2030 with up to five times as many opportunities for supplier jobs, all of which would span the country.

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The report is part of the NREL-led 30 GW by 2030: A Supply Chain Road Map for Offshore Wind in the United States project to create a road map that identifies challenges and solutions to developing a nationally focused offshore wind energy supply chain that has the potential to manufacture all major components domestically by 2030.

The project was overseen by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium and conducted by a partnership among NREL, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, and DNV. Funding and support were provided by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, the Maryland Energy Administration, and the US Department of Energy.

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Photo: Illustration; Block Island Wind Farm; Photo source: CRMC (archive)