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US Could Have 3.3 GW Offshore Wind By End Of Decade

The US currently has no offshore wind capacity, but a new report has suggested that that could grow to 3.3 GW by the end of this decade.

A new report from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) posits that the US could have 3.3 GW of offshore wind power by the end of this decade.

In fact, the report identifies 21 offshore wind projects currently in the project pipeline, with a total adding up to as much as 15,650 MW.

The report begins by acknowledging the global offshore wind market’s track record, putting it on target to set an annual deployment record this year, with a predicted 3,996 MW on track to begin operation by the end of this year. The global cumulative capacity has continued to soar, and is expected to reach 11,800 MW by the end of this year, and analysis of the current project pipeline suggests that the global cumulative capacity could reach a staggering 47,000 MW or more by 2020.

Back home, the NREL report highlighted the beginning of construction for Deepwater Wind’s 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, which it (and the rest of us) believes will be the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm.

Most impressive, however, is the potential growth on the horizon for the industry.

According to the report, as of June 20, 2015, there were 21 US offshore wind projects in the project pipeline, representing 15,650 MW of offshore wind. Breaking that down, 13 projects totaling 5,939 MW have achieved site control or a more advanced phase of development, and approximately 3,305 MW are aiming for commercial operation by 2020.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued 5,768 MW of offshore wind leases, with a total value of $14.5 million, as well as identifying wind energy areas in New Jersey and North Carolina totaling nearly 9,000 MW of additional potential capacity that has yet to be auctioned.

The full NREL report can be viewed here (PDF).

Much has been made lately of the potential for the US offshore wind industry being hampered by regulatory and political backwardness. A report published earlier this year by the Clean Energy Group and Navigant Consulting labelled it currently “difficult, if not impossible, for any single state to jumpstart the offshore wind industry” in the US, going on to say that “Offshore wind will only become cost competitive and reach its true potential if the states in the Northeast region act together to help create a market for the technology. In the end, according to the authors of the report, “The current, go-it alone, single-state policy approach has failed.”

And just this week, a new report published by professors from the University of Delaware highlighted the woeful current state of the US wind industry — especially when compared to its trading partners in Asia and Europe.

“As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the US Energy Policy Act of 2005, it is disheartening to see that while land-based wind and solar have reached new heights, US offshore wind has remained a missed opportunity,” said Jeremy Firestone, the paper’s lead author and a professor in the CEOE’s School of Marine Science and Policy and directs CCPI.

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