United States

United States

'BOEM should capitalise on Massachusetts success'

All the reaction from the latest US leasing round, as the head of a US offshore lobby group suggests the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) should capitalise on the success of the record-breaking bids for lease areas off the Massachusetts coast and fast-track further auctions.

The 30MW Block Island project is the US' only offshore wind farm... for now (pic credit: Deepwater Wind)
The 30MW Block Island project is the US' only offshore wind farm... for now (pic credit: Deepwater Wind)

Equinor, Vineyard Wind, and Mayflower Wind Energy, a new 50:50 joint venture (JV) between EDPR Offshore North America and Shell New Energies, all secured offshore zones on 14 December.

Liz Burdock, executive director of the Business Network for Offshore Wind (BNOW), proposed the $405 million raised through Massachusetts’ tender for offshore lease areas could help the wider US offshore wind industry.

However, Burdock suggested some of the proceeds could help develop grants and programmes that invest in port infrastructure upgrades and support US companies seeking capital investment to become part of the supply chain.

"Cost efficiency, environmental responsibility and the creation of local jobs showcase offshore wind’s advantages as an alternative energy.

"Payments by developers to lease ocean waters should benefit all parties involved, including state ratepayers, high-skilled workers and supply chain businesses in the industry," she added.

Nancy Sopko, director of offshore wind at US trade body, AWEA, said: "The intense competition we’ve seen in this offshore wind lease auction is completely unprecedented.

"With strong support from (outgoing) Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Massachusetts and other states, global businesses now recognise the potential of America’s world-class offshore wind resources."

Director of winner Mayflower Wind Energy, John Hartnett, added: "Mayflower’s entry into US offshore wind is exciting and will leverage Shell and EDPR’s years of combined wind development and offshore experience," said. 

Mayflower Wind Energy made its market entry by securing a 515km2 zone.

The JV claimed its lease area could accommodate 1.6GW of offshore wind capacity. Subject to a successful FID, the wind farm could be commissioned by the mid-2020s, the company added.

The two other winners are already developing offshore wind projects off the east coast.

Vineyard Wind said it was committed to "building a new industry for the region and making substantial contributions to fighting climate change".

"This new lease area will allow us to grow our existing local partnerships as we continue to apply a community-oriented development approach to our activities," the company added.

Christeraf Geijerstam, president of Equinor Wind US, commented: "This acquisition complements our existing position on the US east coast and gives us a foothold to engage in the Massachusetts and wider New England market, a region notable for its strong commitment to offshore wind." 

Equinor won a 319.7km2 lease area off New York state in December 2016 for what was then a record fee of $42.5 million.

The Norwegian developer claimed the site could accommodate more than 1GW of offshore wind capacity, with a first phase of between 400MW and 600MW.

Expansion

The BOEM’s next set of auctions is set to include four wind power zones in the New York Bight area south of New York state, and is scheduled for early 2020.

It should also expand offshore wind activities to the Gulf and US territories in the Caribbean, BNOW's Burdock also added.

The US House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this month that would authorise offshore wind development in American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

The Offshore Wind for Territories Act has now been introduced in the US Senate.

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