The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a new report yesterday showing progress for the U.S. offshore wind energy market in 2012, including the completion of two commercial lease auctions for federal Wind Energy Areas and a number of commercial-scale U.S. projects reaching an advanced stage of development. Further, the report highlights global trends toward building offshore turbines in deeper waters and using larger, more efficient turbines in offshore wind farms, increasing the amount of electricity delivered to consumers.
This year’s U.S. Offshore Wind Market and Economic Analysis, authored by the Navigant Consortium for DOE, builds on last year’s report, providing additional information on offshore wind’s potential to add to U.S. electricity capacity and create jobs, as well as outlining policy developments that influence the sector. DOE said the report, along with other offshore wind R&D projects that began in 2011 and advanced technology demonstration projects announced in 2012, are part of its national offshore wind strategy, "supporting the development of a suite of tools and advanced engineering prototypes that can assist offshore wind project developers and industry stakeholders."
The offshore wind market assessment report will be updated and published annually for a three-year period, providing stakeholders with a reliable and consistent data source. Over time, it will also inform development of a road map for accelerating development and increasing U.S. competitiveness in the offshore wind market.
The 2013 report's key findings include:
- There are a number of projects in advanced stages of development in the U.S.
- Globally, offshore wind development continues to move farther from shore into increasingly deeper waters; parallel increases in turbine sizes and hub heights are contributing to higher efficiencies (capacity factors).
- The average turbine size for advanced-stage, planned projects in the United States is expected to range between 4 MW and 5 MW, which is larger than turbines being used in land-based applications.
- Developers continue to test a variety of platform and foundation types as the industry seeks to address deeper waters, varying seabed conditions, increasing turbine sizes, and the increased severity of wind and wave loading at offshore wind projects.
- The main challenges faced by U.S. offshore wind developers are the need to further reduce costs and develop critical infrastructure such as offshore transmission and purpose-built ports and vessels, while regulatory processes need to be further streamlined.
- Transmission infrastructure projects that saw progress in 2013 included the New Jersey Energy Link.
Read the full report and download the underlying data on the DOE Wind Program’s new offshore wind market acceleration Web page.
The Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about the Department's efforts to research, test, develop, and deploy innovative offshore wind energy technologies.
Photo credit: Siemens press picture