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4 things you need to know about offshore wind in the US

Peter Thoroughgood our consultant managing the role
Published on 31 August 2022

It’s been a long time coming – but the US is set to become the next offshore wind superpower. It is a market rife with opportunity that has been overlooked for years, but finally the country is tapping into it.

Offshore wind represents an exciting, up and coming industry that will benefit the nation’s environmental, economic and employment prospects - however, there are currently only 2 operational wind farms in North American waters. But this is about to change. 

Here are 4 things you need to know about the changing climate of the US offshore wind industry. 

Key vehicle to reaching climate targets

The Biden-Harris administration has identified offshore wind as a key vehicle for the US to reach crucial climate change and decarbonisation targets. As they renew their pledge to the Paris agreement, Biden has set a bold goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 - enough to power 10 million homes with clean energy.

Already a global leader in onshore wind power, the country is equipped with the manufacturing expertise to get offshore wind farms off the ground. On top of this, the extensive US coastline is well poised to help meet the electricity demand, but Trump’s 10-year ban in offshore energy development in the Atlantic Ocean curtailed the US offshore wind market growing to its full potential. By overturning this roadblock, Biden is helping the country revolutionise its energy production and strive towards a brighter, greener future.

Record breaking investment

Considered to be the US’ highest-grossing offshore energy sale in history, the New York Bight offshore wind sale drew competitive winning bids from six companies – totalling $4.37 billion. Further investment into the country’s offshore wind scene is forecasted to exceed $100 billion by the end of the decade.

As major oil and gas companies are recognising the value of the burgeoning renewable energy market, they are directing new investments into offshore wind projects and the US is a key destination being targeted. The country is particularly attractive because it offers generous tax benefits, excellent geographic conditions and skilled local workforces. An oil and gas titan that already has a hand in the US offshore wind market is BP. In 2021, they acquired a 50% stake in Empire Wind and Beacon Wind’s offshore wind farm projects which have been selected by the State of New York to satisfy its future power needs.

Oil and gas companies have an advantage in emerging offshore markets as they can leverage their expertise in offshore environments. Moving forward, oil and gas companies are also well positioned to hybridise offshore wind projects with green hydrogen production – a promising renewable energy industry receiving increased attention.

Hot US locations

The East Coast of America is a prime location for offshore wind. Particularly around north-eastern areas, the high Atlantic wind speeds and shallow continental shelf create the ideal conditions to build an offshore wind farm. 11 eastern states including New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina are already seizing the opportunity, and collaboratively 15 offshore wind farms have reached permitting phases.

There is an expectation for offshore wind to grow significantly beyond the easterly shores, too. Recently, California released five areas off the coast for lease, and the Biden administration approved the process to begin for mapping out potential areas off the Gulf and Pacific coasts. However, the steep water depths around the west coast make wind turbine installation a little trickier. Investment into floating offshore wind technology that can be deployed in much deeper water is something the country are exploring to maximise their offshore energy production before 2030 deadlines. Federal agencies are already planning to incorporate floating wind turbines in farms being mapped out across California, Oregon and Maine.

Economic and employment boost

The offshore wind movement is more than just a climate strategy for the US, it is an economic and employment opportunity. By 2030, it is predicted that the US offshore wind industry will generate 83,000 new jobs for the country and represent over $12billion of capital investment projects per year. But importantly, the industry will help direct these jobs and funds to underserved communities within the country. As part of the Biden administration, a government-wide initiative has been implemented to deliver at least 40% of benefits from federal investments into clean energy to disadvantaged communities such as struggling fishing ports on the East Coast.

The New York Bight offshore wind leases sale included stipulations to help promote the development of robust, domestic supply chain. Stipulations included incentives to source blades, turbines and foundations within the country, and build labour agreements to ensure jobs and projects are union-protected. Where possible, offshore wind jobs will be delivered to local US workforces.

Offshore wind recruitment

The emerging US market is looking to the well-established markets of Europe and Asia to guide their path to success – as well as utilising some of their experienced workers to help get initial projects off the ground. That is where Quanta can help. We are experts in sourcing offshore wind talent and have built a strong network of international contractors. A trusted partner to Ørsted – the world’s largest developer of offshore wind power and frontrunner in US offshore wind farm development – we are helping staff new projects across America. Get in touch with our dedicated Renewable Energy recruitment team today or discover our offshore wind jobs here.

Quanta Talks is a brand-new podcast gathering all the latest insights into the life changing industries that Quanta recruits for. In our first episode, we discuss the rapid growth of the offshore wind industry in the US with Pete Thoroughgood, our Ørsted account manager. Listen here.