Four US offshore wind projects get boost
Four US offshore wind projects received positive news on 30 June and 1 July, marking new milestones in the industry's rapid and recent march towards expanded commercial application.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) voted to award two offshore wind projects with a total combined capacity of 2,658 MW, which it said marks the largest single procurement of offshore wind in the US.
On the same day, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a Notice of Intent to proceed with an environmental impact study (EIS) for one part of the Vineyard Wind Project off the coast of Massachusetts.
Then on 1 July, BOEM said it will begin an EIS for Dominion Energy's Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind, a 3,000-MW project. The Dominion project, 23.5 miles off Virginia's coast, was announced to coincide with Interior Sec. Deb Haaland's visit to Norfolk, Virginia, where she discussed the state's commitment to offshore wind with Gov. Ralph Northam and US Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat.
"We are definitely seeing an uptick of offshore activity in the US," said Samantha Bobo Woodworth, IHS Markit senior research analyst, global wind energy. "Now that we have an administration that has shown itself to be committed to the establishment of the industry, it's not hugely surprising to see the ball start rolling and quickly."
The pace of activity in the US has picked up under the Biden administration, which has set a goal of 30,000 MW of offshore wind installations by 2030. In response, BOEM and its parent agency, the Department of Interior, announced in June new offshore wind lease sales in New Jersey and New York, and another in the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf. BOEM started the process in May of assessing two areas off California's coast as well.
"This acceleration is necessary to come anywhere close to meeting state and federal offshore wind targets on time," Woodworth said.
NJBPU said the projects are expected to be operating in 2027 or 2028: one of the new projects, known as Ocean Wind II, will be developed by Ørsted (1,148 MW); and the other, Atlantic Shores, is a joint venture of EDF and Shell (1,509 MW).
Combined with the Ocean Wind I that is under construction, New Jersey leads the nation with 3,758 MW of approved offshore wind capacity.
Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal of building 7,500 MW of offshore wind by 2035. "Expanding New Jersey's offshore wind industry is a major component of achieving our goal of 100-percent clean energy by 2050, while providing significant opportunities and economic benefits for our state," he said in a statement.
In their applications, wind developers said the combined impact of the projects will avoid 5 million mt of GHG emissions per year compared with natural gas-fired power, or about 26% of total emissions from New Jersey's electricity sector.
They also committed to invest in fisheries protection—a sensitive issue for all offshore projects—and building new "nacelle" assembly facilities at the New Jersey Wind Port. The nacelle houses the components that convert the mechanical energy of the rotating blades into electrical energy, and NJBPU called it "the highest value-added" component of wind installations. Atlantic Shores will work with MHI Vestas on one nacelle facility, and Ocean Wind will work with GE on another.
Atlantic Shores has also promised to build a green hydrogen pilot facility, and Ocean Wind has promised to fund a truck electrification pilot project at Port Newark.
During construction of the facilities, the projects will create 7,000 full- or part-time jobs, said NJBPU. They will generate $3.5 billion in economic benefits and supply electricity to 1.15 million homes.
NJBPU staff said the estimated levelized net costs to construct Atlantic Shores will be $58.51/MWh, and Ocean Wind II will be $42.30/MWh. For residential customers, the average bill will increase by $1.28-$2.21/month.
Concurrent with the wind development, New Jersey opened in April a solicitation for power transmission lines to connect to offshore projects to the PJM Interconnection grid. That solicitation closes on 13 August.
Moving north on the Atlantic Coast, BOEM's Vineyard Wind notice in the Federal Register reflects the next step for the project that was greenlighted in May for offshore wind in Massachusetts. After that authorization, the developer split the project into two parts in June, and the new BOEM notice is for an environmental impact statement for Vineyard Wind South, also known as Park City Wind.
The Park City Wind 804-MW project is being developed by US utility Avangrid (through its subsidiary Avangrid Renewables and its subsidiary Iberdrola) and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The power it produces has been contracted by Avangrid for customers in Connecticut, helping the state move towards its goal of 2,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2030.
"This is another important milestone for Avangrid's portfolio of offshore wind projects," Avangrid CEO Dennis Arriola said in a statement.
Park City Wind is expected to provide about 14% of the state's electricity supply, he said.
According to BOEM, the project will include up to 130 wind turbine positions, two to five offshore substations and three onshore substations, as well as transmission cables that will make landfall in Barnstable County, Massachusetts.
Dominion Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind
The Dominion project will help Virginia meet its goal of 5,200 MW of offshore clean energy capacity by 2034
The project calls for the construction and operation of up to 205 turbines. The project three offshore substations and a likely cable landfall in Virginia Beach.
During operations and maintenance, the CVOW-C project would support about 1,100 long-term jobs, according to Virginia officials.
It's not Dominion's only investment in this industry, noted Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association. Dominion Energy has completed a two-turbine, 12 MW CVOW pilot wind farm located adjacent to the commercial development and became operational in October 2020.
The company is investing up to $500 million to build the first US offshore wind installation vessel in a Texas shipyard, she said.
Includes reporting by Jeremy Rakes, OPIS.
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