Wind Floats: The Offshore Wind Industry Comes to America

February 17, 2022

Over 30 years since the first offshore wind farm was installed in Denmark, the United States is ready to embrace offshore wind farms. Bolstered by national and federal commitments, “floating” wind farms are poised for continued growth for the foreseeable future.

Offshore Wind Market Growth & Policy Support

In the Offshore Wind Market Report: 2021 Edition, the U.S Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy reported a 24% increase in the U.S. offshore wind energy operational pipeline from 2019 to 2020. With the number of projects underway and wind energy goals at the forefront of many renewable energy programs, it is expected that this exponential growth will continue.

President Joe Biden announced an Executive Order within his first week in office that was an early indicator of his support for the offshore wind industry. And on March 29, 2021, the Biden Administration, specifically the Departments of Interior (DOI), Energy (DOE), and Commerce (DOC) announced a 30-gigawatt (GW)-by-30 national offshore wind energy goal. Not only intended to generate power for Americans, but the program also targets creating tens of thousands of additional jobs. Looking even further ahead, the achievement of the 30 GW by 2030 goal sets the stage for a 110 GW by 2050 goal, creating even more jobs and renewable power.

Embracing Offshore Wind at a State Level

At the time of the release of the Offshore Wind Market Report: 2021 Edition, 11 states had offshore wind pipelines in the planning, site control, permitting, approved and/or operating phases. These states include New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Ohio, and Maine. While early progress is centralized along the eastern Atlantic coast, other parts of the country are embracing the move to offshore wind. Oregon, for example, recently passed legislation to work toward developing 3 GW by 2030 using offshore wind projects.

First Commercial Offshore Wind Energy Project

In May 2021, following a three-year review, Vineyard Wind 1 became the first fully approved commercial offshore energy project in the United States. Located off the coast of Massachusetts, Vineyard Wind 1 will house a total of 62 General Electric Haliade-X wind turbines. Estimates for electricity generation indicate that the project will be able to power over 400,000 homes. It is also estimated that through the elimination of carbon dioxide emissions, the project will have the equivalent impact of reducing the number of vehicles on the road by 325,000.

Potential Obstacles for U.S. Adoption of Offshore Wind

While the United States has made tremendous strides in embracing offshore wind, with some speculating that we may meet or surpass European production within 10-15 years, obstacles remain. Continued policy support will be especially critical to the continuation of offshore wind farm development and global supply chains are slowing development and delaying production timelines. Additionally, offshore wind farms rely on surrounding infrastructure which must often be re-evaluated and improved to support the new projects.

However, if we can realize the energy, economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind, it stands to evolve as an ongoing channel to meet our renewable energy goals.

Computing & I/O Systems for Energy

From I/O control systems to COM Express-based touchscreen PCs and industrial computers, Sealevel’s in-house team of engineers capitalizes on an ever-growing library of IP to design solutions for wind turbine control. Take a look at our standard products that support the industry and then call us to discuss your specific environmental, processing, and I/O requirements.

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