Offshore Wind is off to a flying start in 2018

This year is already off to an exceptional start and in this post we take a look at the events that made it so.

Governor Murphy on NJ’s election night (photo: Bastiaan Slabbers | NurPhoto | Getty Images)

The promise of a strong 2018 was contained in three events shortly before Christmas: the first was New York’s October request to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to consider identifying and leasing at least four new wind energy areas off New York’s Atlantic Coast with a total potential capacity of 3,200 MW. This was followed a month later by the election of Phil Murphy as the new Governor of New Jersey: he campaigned on a promise of 3,500 megawatts (MW) of wind by 2030: the most ambitious offshore wind energy target in the country. Finally in December, and just before Christmas, bids closed in Massachusetts for the first commercial-scale wind farm in the United States. Three bids were submitted and at least one of them promised prices “significantly” below those seen to date.

Activity so far this year has only accelerated from the firm foundation set in the closing months of 2017.  There have been, once again, three particularly noteworthy events.

DeVito also met with U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands (photo: Vincent DeVito twitter)

The first was the visit of Vincent DeVito to Denmark in mid January. Vincent DeVito is the Energy Policy Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and his visit was noteworthy for the degree of enthusiasm and interest he expressed in the enormous opportunities available from a well-planned development of the offshore wind supply chain. His interest is captured in this Bloomberg article (‘Working hard to boost wind energy, Adviser says in Denmark‘) which contains comments from DeVito such as “We hope to continue our robust expansion of offshore wind in the United States.” These positive remarks are indicative of an Administration which is extremely receptive to the economic, energy security and employment opportunities afforded by offshore wind energy.

The second was New York’s release of their much anticipated ‘Offshore Wind Masterplan’. The Masterplan will initially implement the procurement of at least 800 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind over the next two years and will then help to achieve the 2,400 MW offshore wind target by 2030 – thereby supporting Governor Cuomo’s mandate of 50% electricity from renewables by 2030. The study estimates that thousands of new jobs will be created in New York’s emerging offshore wind industry and is backed by more than 20 scientific studies and industry analyses.

Following hard on the heels of New York, the next day Governor Phil Murphy made good on his campaign promise to make New Jersey the nation’s leader on offshore wind power. Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order that will commit New Jersey to 3,500 MW of offshore wind power by 2030. This is the largest state offshore wind goal in America and enough to power 1.5 million homes.

President Trump calls for $1.5-trillion infrastructure bill (photo: NY Times)

These are just the three big ones: there has been a host of smaller – but nonetheless very positive – items such President Trump’s ‘State of the Union’ speech which emphasized the importance of infrastructure build out, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s release of a much welcomed ‘Design Envelope’ approach for considering offshore wind projects, the news of coming offshore wind lease block auctions in Massachusetts and New York in 2018, Ørsted and Dominion Energy signing an EPC contract for their Virginia project, the Icebreaker initiative, to be built in Lake Erie, continues to move forward, and is a recipient of a Department of Energy advanced demonstration project award, Connecticut’s announcement – albeit in December – of an offshore wind RFP, breathtaking wind + storage bid prices from an Xcel RFP, (great for all variable renewables and not just offshore wind), movement with the Maryland/Delaware projects and more.

The next one to watch out for will be on Monday 23 April when Massachusetts announces the results of the first U.S. commercial-scale offshore wind RFP.

Buckle up: 2018 is going to be busy!