ARKANSAS, Sept 27 (Future Headlines)- The United States is poised to make a significant leap in renewable energy generation with its burgeoning offshore wind industry. With nearly 53 GW of offshore wind projects in various stages of development, the country has the potential to power more than 18 million households once these projects are completed. This remarkable growth in offshore wind capacity is outlined in the recent Offshore Wind Market Report: 2023 Edition, released by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and analyzed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

As of May 2023, the US offshore wind pipeline stands at an impressive 52,687 MW. This pipeline comprises two operational offshore wind farms totaling 42 MW, over 40 projects in various stages of development, amounting to 47,606 MW, and an additional 5,039 MW in the planning phase. This substantial capacity underscores the nation’s commitment to transitioning to clean energy sources, particularly offshore wind.

The NREL analysis highlights several significant developments in the US offshore wind energy market from January 2022 to May 2023. Three new lease areas in the Gulf of Mexico have been launched, signifying a broadening geographical reach for offshore wind projects in the US. In 2022, the US offshore wind industry invested a substantial USD 2.7 billion (approximately EUR 2.55 billion) in ports, vessels, the supply chain, and transmission infrastructure. This investment underlines the sector’s commitment to building robust support systems for its growth.

Several US states are taking the lead in advancing offshore wind energy. These states collectively aim to install a remarkable 42,730 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2040, demonstrating strong state-level procurement activities and policies driving momentum in the sector. Floating offshore wind has gained traction, marking a significant development. The report mentions the first-ever commercial floating wind lease sale off the coast of California. Additionally, the US government’s announcement of the Floating Offshore Wind Shot, targeting a 70% reduction in floating wind energy costs and deploying 15 GW of floating offshore wind by 2035, underscores the potential of this technology.

The NREL analysis acknowledges that the offshore wind market has become more volatile in the past year. Rising project costs attributed to inflation, interest rates, and supply chain uncertainties present challenges. However, the Inflation Reduction Act of August 2022 offers some relief by providing tax credit incentives for investments in offshore wind energy and domestic supply chains. This legislation aims to mitigate the adverse impacts of rising costs, ensuring that offshore wind projects remain profitable.

On a global scale, offshore wind capacity is set to witness remarkable growth, potentially reaching 380–394 GW by 2032. This represents a sixfold increase over the next decade. Importantly, the report suggests that the US offshore wind market’s growth could mirror the anticipated global expansion despite the current economic challenges facing large-scale projects. However, the economic challenges confronting the first generation of commercial offshore wind projects could hinder workforce and manufacturing growth. Addressing these challenges is vital to sustaining the sector’s upward trajectory.

Despite market uncertainties, the outlook for the US offshore wind industry remains optimistic. The report emphasizes the importance of federal and state support for commercial leasing, energy planning targets, procurement policies, offtake agreements, and the development of domestic supply chains and jobs. These elements collectively point towards continued market growth and the significant contribution of offshore wind to reducing carbon emissions in the country’s electric supply.

In the words of Walt Musial, NREL’s offshore wind energy expert and lead author of the report, “As the first major projects move toward commercial operation in the next year, we are likely to see offshore wind begin to make a significant contribution toward reducing the carbon emissions of our electric supply.” The journey to a cleaner and more sustainable energy future in the United States is well underway, with offshore wind playing a central role in this transformative endeavor.

Writing by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White