US Gets Busy with Floating Wind and West Coast Transmission Infrastructure

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has kicked off several projects and collaborations with other government departments and partners to advance floating wind development in the country, including transmission planning, research, and technology. 

Illustration; WindFloat Atlantic; Source: Principle Power

Over the past two days, 22 and 23 February, DOE and the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Transportation held an inaugural Floating Offshore Wind Shot Summit.

The summit gathered US Federal Administration leaders, Governors, Members of Congress, industry and labour leaders, and a wide array of stakeholders working to advance innovation priorities, infrastructure buildout, community engagement, and other key aspects of floating offshore wind deployment. 

The overarching goal of the cooperation is the reduction of floating wind energy costs by over 70 per cent by 2035, an aim that was announced last year together with the Biden-Harris Administration’s floating wind target of 15 GW by 2035.

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DOE has now launched a new West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Study, a 20-month analysis examining how the country can expand transmission to harness power from floating offshore wind for West Coast communities.

Supported by funds from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the study’s findings will help develop practical plans through 2050 to address transmission constraints that currently limit offshore wind development along the US West Coast. It is also expected to evaluate multiple pathways to reaching offshore wind goals while supporting grid reliability, resilience, and ocean co-use, DOE says.

This study complements an analysis released on 19 February that evaluates existing West Coast offshore wind energy transmission research. The analysis identifies deployment gaps that the wind industry must address to successfully develop offshore wind energy off the nation’s West Coast. 

The Department of Energy also pointed out that its Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently deployed a floating scientific research buoy approximately 15 miles east of Oahu, Hawaii, to collect offshore wind resource, meteorological, and oceanographic data.

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Furthermore, California has now joined the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC), a research consortium funded by DOE and others, becoming the seventh state and first state on the US West Coast to join NOWRDC.

California’s addition to the Consortium will bring a new focus on reducing costs of floating offshore wind for ratepayers, DOE said.

The state has also joined the White House-led Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership, which was formed last year with eleven states on the US East Coast to collaborate on building a strong domestic supply chain and enabling accelerated development of offshore wind in the US.

Along with work focused on floating wind, on 21 February, DOE also announced the Department was working with Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on an industry-informed roadmap for the development of new operations and maintenance (O&M) technologies and processes for offshore wind.

The roadmap will identify current industry knowledge gaps and emerging technology solutions that are primed for government investment. This will enable sustained offshore wind energy deployment through higher confidence in the ability to effectively operate and maintain a growing offshore wind energy fleet in challenging environments, DOE says.

To bring forward the roadmap, the Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories and NREL will be seeking feedback from relevant industry stakeholders throughout Spring 2023.

Floorplan for Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference 2023 is now open

Coming this November, OEEC 2023 will once again gather professionals from the oil & gas, LNG, offshore and floating wind, marine energy, and hydrogen industries in Amsterdam.