Report Suggests How U.S. Offshore Wind Can Flourish

Posted by NAW Staff on July 08, 2015 No Comments
Categories : New & Noteworthy

A total investment of $424.8 billion is required to develop the first 80 GW of utility-scale offshore wind power in the U.S., according to a new study from Totaro & Associates.

The report says there are three critical path areas that will be essential to future growth, including foundation production, port infrastructure, and domestic shipbuilding of purpose-designed installation and service vessels.

According to the study, newer offshore foundation structures involve much more in-depth engineering and design work that necessitates a higher skill set not yet present in the U.S., even with the oil and gas sector's offshore experience. Given the capital-intensive nature for domesticating a design without a significant order commitment, partnerships and technology transfer/licensing will be key to facilitating near-term expansion in this area, the report adds.

Although significant quayside infrastructure exists to enable offshore wind, the report says approximately $637.4 million in infrastructure improvements will be necessary for ports to be capable of supporting turbine production, offshore component load-out, and service and repair.

Furthermore, the report says installation and service vessels are in short supply, and given European demand, it is unlikely that EU-based vessels could be deployed in the U.S. market. Totaro & Associates says this should facilitate domestic shipbuilding to meet the levels of demand expected in the coming years.

Grid infrastructure and domestic turbine manufacturing will be other keys to success, of course, but those elements are poised to fall into place with investment commitments already made in principle to these two areas, says the report.

The study suggests YieldCos could also prove to be a longer-term spur to offshore project expansion in the U.S. as they look for developmental and operational assets to include in their portfolio mix.

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