One of the smaller players on the global OW scene, US Wind is a subsidiary of Italian Toto Holding Group,which has more than 40 years of experience specializing in large infrastructure construction projects, rail transportation and aviation.
In 2014 it paid $9 million for a Maryland offshore wind zone. A year later, with prices dropping after the collapse of the Cape Wind project, it paid just $1 million for another huge lease area off New Jersey. In 2018 it resold that lease at a massive profit for $215 million to EDF renewables.
"US Wind is a recognized leader in the fast-developing offshore wind energy sector in the United States and we remain fully committed to realizing the many significant benefits of our Maryland offshore wind energy project - eventually the largest commercial offshore wind project in the country," said US Wind President Riccardo Toto. "The sale of our New Jersey lease is consistent with our strategy to develop and optimize our assets while focusing on those projects that enhance our leadership position."
US Wind Maryland Project
Currently US Wind is only developing one project off the coast of Maryland. The plan is to install 32 turbines in 20-30 metres of water, 17 miles offshore. A substation will collect the energy from the turbines and transmit the electricity to the shore using underwater cables.
The Maryland project is expected to produce more than 250 MW of power, which will meet one hundred percent of Maryland’s off-shore wind renewable energy goals. This is enough electricity for over 76,000 Maryland homes.
The project’s completion date has been pushed back to 2023, with an operational life expectancy of more than 25 years. Over its lifetime the project will support hundreds of highly skilled jobs in engineering, construction and operation and maintenance. US Wind estimates that the net value of the project to the state economy will be $1.35 billion.
Extensive Supply Chain Commitments
The State of Maryland expects to build a domestic industry. It has the advantage of under-used port capacity (see article on Tradepoint Atlantic facilities being created for Ørsted). US Wind is looking at the area to support its operations. “I couldn’t think of a better place to do it than Baltimore,” said Country Manager Salvo Vitale.
The two projects, US Wind’s and Ørsted’s have stringent local supply requirements:
In Order No. 88192 in Case No. 9431, the Commission attached nearly 30 conditions to the approval, including requirements that the developers create a minimum of 4,977 direct jobs during the development, construction and operating phases of the projects; pass 80 percent of any construction costs savings to ratepayers; and contribute $6 million each to the Maryland Offshore Wind Business Development Fund.
The companies will be required to use port facilities in the greater Baltimore region and Ocean City for construction and operations and maintenance activities. The developers must invest collectively at least $76 million in a steel fabrication plant in Maryland and together fund at least $39.6 million to support port upgrades at the Tradepoint Atlantic (formerly Sparrows Point) shipyard in Baltimore County.
“I believe this decision creates tremendous opportunities for Maryland,” said Commissioner Michael T. Richard. “It enables us to meet our clean, renewable energy goals using energy generated within the state while conditioning our approval on holding project developers to their promises of creating jobs and spurring economic growth. We have also acted to keep costs as low as possible in order to maximize the investment and benefit for Maryland’s electric customers.”
Looking for More Opportunities
US Wind is on the lookout for other opportunities in the OS OW market, perhaps in South Carolina. Vitale says, "While we firmly believe Maryland will be the regional hub of the industry, it's in our DNA to scout for new opportunities, "We'll take part in additional BOEM lease auctions that will come in upcoming years."
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By Julian Jackson – writer on technology, arts, blockchain and cryptocurrencies