The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a new report showing strong progress for the U.S. offshore wind market, highlighting industry trends and technology advancements and predicting a record year for the global offshore wind sector.
Announced Tuesday at the American Wind Energy Association's Offshore WINDPOWER Conference in Baltimore, Md., the 2014-2015 U.S. Offshore Wind Technologies Market Report was prepared by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The study builds on the DOE's annual wind technology and distributed wind market reports, which provide stakeholders with data sources for their respective markets.
According to the new DOE report, there are currently 21 U.S. offshore wind projects totaling 15,650 MW in the planning and development pipeline. Of those, 13 projects totaling nearly 6,000 MW – enough to power 1.8 million homes – are in the more advanced stages of development, while 12 projects with more than 3,300 MW planned have announced a commercial operation date by 2020. With 80% of the U.S. electricity demand coming from coastal states, offshore wind could play a crucial role in meeting our energy needs, says the report.
The DOE says U.S. developer Deepwater Wind – leveraging 25 years of European technical knowledge, as well as U.S. manufacturing and installation expertise – began construction of the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island this spring. The 30 MW project is expected to be operational by fall 2016. In addition to Rhode Island, offshore wind projects in eight other states are also in the advanced stages of development, the report continues.
Offering a look at the global offshore wind industry, the report says that offshore wind projects continue to trend farther from shore and into increasingly deeper waters. Continuing to increase in size, the average offshore wind turbine installed in 2014 had a 377-foot-diameter rotor on a 279-foot-tall tower. The average capacity of offshore wind turbines installed in 2014 was 3.4 MW (compared with 1.9 MW for land-based turbines).
The report notes that last year also marked the first deployment of an 8 MW prototype, and a number of turbines rated between 6 MW and 8 MW have been ordered for pending projects. The report says that by siting projects farther from shore where they can access stronger, more consistent winds, combined with technology improvements and larger turbines, developers have increased their turbines' capacity factors, meaning each wind turbine can generate more energy.
The study's authors expect this year to become a record year for global offshore wind deployments, with 3,996 MW of capacity on track to begin operations. In the first half of 2015, the report says, industry commissioned 1,190 MW of this capacity – bringing the total current installed capacity to 8,990 MW worldwide.
The full report is available here.