The East Coast has proved a fertile hunting ground for offshore wind developers, with major groups recognizing the vast potential for business development that the emerging US market offers. What follows are snapshots of the current status and planned operations of two high-profile players.
As co-owner of Vineyard Wind, the US’s first commercial-scale project, Avangrid Renewables is a clear leader in the nascent US offshore wind market. The company is 81.5% owned by Iberdrola, a Spanish utility notable for having more than 30 GW of installed power generation capacity, of which around 70% is carbon-free.
Iberdrola also has a major offshore wind portfolio, with six projects in procurement, construction or operation in Europe and three under development in the US. The US projects include the first phase of Vineyard Wind, which Avangrid owns alongside Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.
Vineyard Wind won the Massachusetts solicitation for an initial 800 MW of capacity with a bid of $70 per MWh, and the developer is planning to equip the project with 84 MHI Vestas 9.5 MW turbines on monopiles. Final federal and state permits are expected in the third quarter of this year, with financial close before year-end, although as of July 2019 Vineyard Wind was reported to be facing hurdles from local authorities and from BOEM.
In August 2019 Vineyard Wind unveiled a further project called Vineyard Wind 2, which comprises 400 and 800 megawatt wind energy projects which were presented to Massachusetts utilities. The arrays would be constructed in the existing lease area south of Vineyard Wind 1.
Update 4.10.19 Delays to the Project
In August the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) put back a crucial approval on the progression of the Vineyard Wind project off the Massachusetts coast. This is an unfortunate hiccup in the process to build another wind farm in the Atlantic, which aims to start construction this year.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm is a mandatory requirement for the project, detailing the impact of proposed structures on the surrounding environment.
This week BOEM announced that there would be delays:
Status: BOEM’s Environmental Review of the Vineyard Wind Project
Comments received from stakeholders and cooperating agencies requested a more robust cumulative analysis. Considering such comments, and taking into account recent state offshore wind procurement announcements, BOEM is expanding its cumulative analysis of projects within its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Because BOEM has determined that a greater build out of offshore wind capacity is more reasonably foreseeable than was analyzed in the initial draft EIS, BOEM has decided to supplement the Draft EIS and solicit comments on its revised cumulative impacts analysis.
There will be an opportunity to comment on the Supplemental EIS. BOEM will notify all stakeholders – including federal, state, and local agencies, elected officials, fishing communities, and the public when the Supplemental EIS is available for public comment. BOEM will also hold public meetings during the comment period. BOEM anticipates completing the Supplemental EIS late this year or early next year.
Alejandro de Hoz, vice president of US offshore wind at Avangrid Renewables, says Vineyard Wind is close to selecting debt and tax equity investors. Beyond Vineyard Wind, Avangrid also has the lease for up to 2.5 GW at Kitty Hawk, a 100% owned project to be developed between 2025 and 2029.
Avangrid presented its 1.2 GW Liberty Wind project to the most recent New York solicitation. The bid was not selected, although “we have a large pipeline that we are sure will be successful in the coming years,” observes de Hoz.
Vineyard Wind Submits Proposals to Deliver up to 1200 MW of Offshore Wind to Connecticut
“Park City Wind” proposal includes 400, 800, 1000 and 1200 megawatt projects.
On September 30th Vineyard Wind has submitted a set of offshore wind project proposals called “Park City Wind” to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in response to their 2019 solicitation for offshore wind power. The bids submitted include a required 400 megawatt (MW) plan and options to develop projects that will generate 800 MW, 1000 MW and 1200 MW.
Equinor likely represents the best example of how an oil and gas company can transition to renewables. The business formerly known as Statoil, the Norwegian state-owned oil and gas giant, entered the offshore wind sector with the launch of its 2.3 MW Hywind floating demo platform in 2009.
This was followed by the 317 MW Sheringham Shoal, Dudgeon, Hywind Scotland and Arkona plants, all of which are now in operation in European waters. In the US, the company is pursuing opportunities not only in the Northeast, with proposed projects in New York and New Jersey, but also on the West Coast, using the floating platforms perfected in the Hywind plants.
The company is currently focused on its New York Empire Wind and New Jersey Boardwalk Wind projects, with Construction and Operations Plans for both plants submitted to BOEM in the summer of 2019. However, in BOEM’s most recent round Equinor also snapped up a seabed lease off Massachusetts.
Empire Wind Gets the Green Light
The Empire Wind Project received the go-ahead from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 18th.. Empire Wind is planned to be an 816 MW project which will have 60-80 turbines, an average of 20 miles (32 km) south of Long Island, east of the Rockaways. When complete, it will power more than a million New York homes.
“We established an organization here from 2017 onwards,” comments Christer af Geijerstam, President, Equinor Wind US. “What we have been very focused on is stakeholder engagement. We have had countless meetings.”
The company has already entered into selected partnerships with bodies such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is helping to provide sensors for whale tracking. The requirements for a thriving offshore wind industry are already in place, af Geijerstam says, although ports and infrastructure are “a key challenge” for the industry.
Equinor has looked at more than 20 potential ports, he says, and keen to see how states can help support port infrastructure. If you are going to hire installation vessels, “you have to have a port that you can take that vessel into,” he says.
Join us at the US Offshore Wind 2020 Conference & Supply Chain Exhibition.
Your Gateway into the U.S. Offshore Wind Industry - Boston June 18-19, 2020
Join us at USOW20, the premier event for businesses that are looking to invest, find partners or secure contracts in upcoming U.S. offshore wind projects. With over 2000 attendees and major decision-makers present, this is the most compelling event for anyone wanting in-depth insight into the expanding U.S. offshore wind market. Click here to find out more.
By Julian Jackson – writer on technology, arts, blockchain and cryptocurrencies