Biden Administration launches initiatives to reach 15 GW by 2035 floating wind goal

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 16/09/2022 White House

The Biden-Harris Administration announced the launch of coordinated actions to develop floating offshore wind platforms in order to reach a new goal of 15 GW of floating wind by 2035.

According to the Administration, deep-water areas that require floating platforms are home to two-thirds of America’s offshore wind energy potential, including along the West Coast and in the Gulf of Maine.

To reach the new goal of 15 GW of installed floating offshore wind capacity by 2035 the Department of the Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will advance lease areas in deep waters for floating technology, starting with a lease auction off the coast of California by the end of 2022.

White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland also announced several new initiatives so support floating wind development.

This includes the New Floating Offshore Wind Shot  which aims to Lower Costs by 70 Percent. Through the Energy Earthshot program, the Administration will create a new Floating Offshore Wind Shot to accelerate breakthroughs across engineering, manufacturing, and other innovation areas. The Floating Offshore Wind Shot will aim to reduce the costs of floating technologies by more than 70% by 2035, to $45 per megawatt-hour.  

The Floating Offshore Wind Shot is an initiative led by the Departments of Energy (DOE), Interior (DOI), Commerce, and Transportation. DOE and the National Science Foundation will also collaborate on research and workforce development in support of the Floating Offshore Wind Shot.

The Floating Offshore Wind Shot includes an ambitious goal to reduce the cost of floating offshore wind energy by more than 70%, to $45 per megawatt-hour by 2035. The Administration stated that this cost target will require focused research, development, and demonstration to catalyze continued cost reductions, with a focus on manufacturing, engineering, and continued increases of offshore wind turbine capacity. Agencies will also continue collaborating to develop the supply chain and transmission infrastructure needed to accelerate floating as well as fixed-bottom offshore wind.

Furthermore, the Floating Offshore Wind Shot will promote ocean co-use, protect biodiversity, and advance environmental justice—including by making sure the benefits of offshore wind deployment reach underserved communities, in support of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. This new target is part of DOE’s Energy Earthshots initiative to tackle key remaining technical challenges to reaching U.S. climate goals.

To support these ambitious new goals on floating offshore wind, DOE announced nearly $50 million—including support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—for research, development, and demonstration funding:

Floating Offshore Wind Readiness Prize: This week, DOE announced a $6.85 million prize competition that challenges competitors to optimise floating platform technologies and work to get them ready for wide-scale domestic manufacturing and commercialisation.
Floating Offshore Wind Array Design Project: DOE announced a $3 million project funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to develop a set of modeling tools to help industry and researchers design commercial-scale floating offshore wind farm arrays in U.S. waters, including their anchors, mooring lines, and subsea power cables.
West Coast Ports Analysis: DOE announced a nearly $1 million project funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reduce key infrastructure challenges by outlining a network of West Coast ports and upgrades needed to deploy commercial-scale floating offshore wind.
West Coast Transmission Analysis: DOE announced an analysis to review existing transmission studies and identify research gaps related to offshore wind integration in California, Oregon, and Washington. This work will help inform future analysis efforts that will aid in transmission planning and buildout.
Atlantis II: DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) intends to announce $31 million in funding through phase two of its Aerodynamic Turbines, Lighter and Afloat, with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program. The ATLANTIS program focuses on novel forms of systems engineering for floating offshore wind systems to drive down costs. This second phase of the ATLANTIS program will focus on experimental testing in ocean, lake, and tank and tunnel environments to further develop new technology for floating offshore wind turbines.
Environmental Research Award: DOE and BOEM announced a $1.6 million project to support coexistence of floating offshore wind with bats on the West Coast of the United States.
Ocean Co-Use and Transmission Research Awards: The National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium, a partnership established with funding from DOE and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, announced five projects totaling $3.5 million to facilitate ocean area coexistence with marine mammals and fishing and to support offshore wind transmission for both fixed-bottom and floating technologies.

To remind, President Biden
recently signed the Inflation Reduction Act which aims to secure clean energy tax credits. It includes $369 billion in planned investments to advance America’s clean energy programs, including offshore wind development, in an effort to reduces emissions 40% by 2030.

The US government has a national goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. This effort is expected to support approximately around 80,000 jobs in industry and surrounding communities, generate electricity to power over 10 million American homes. According to DOE, achieving this goal will result in an expected $12 billion in annual investment in offshore wind projects, which in turn can lead to the construction of up to 10 manufacturing plants for offshore wind turbine components and new ships to install the turbines.

Offshore wind is taking off in the US, particularly the east coast,  with a number of offshore wind projects are proposed off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia, Maine and the Carolinas. So far, only two projects have hit the water,
Block Island which was commissioned in 2017 followed by Coastal Virginia in 2020. Vineyard Wind 1, poised to be the first commercial scale offshore wind project in the United States, is expected to start offshore construction this year with first power slated for 2023 ahead of commissioning in 2024. Other States such as California, Louisiana and Oregon are also investigation offshore wind potential, including floating developments.

Image: Source
Gage Skidmore