Clarksons: Fleet a challenge for U.S. offshore wind

(LONDON) — Clarksons Research has released a new report profiling the offshore wind sector in the United States, including a capacity forecast out to 2030, analysis of the fleet of vessels set to serve the growing U.S. sector, and coverage of recent federal government policies. Reviewing the data, Steve Gordon, managing director of Clarksons Research, commented:

• “The U.S. offshore wind sector has gained momentum in recent years and appears likely to emerge as a key growth region for the global offshore wind industry, although challenges around the Jones Act and offshore wind supply chain are present. We project installed capacity off the U.S. to reach 23 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 across 29 wind farms and 1,600 turbines, up from just 42 MW today (two windfarms and seven turbines).”

• “Over 45 GW of offshore wind capacity has been proposed by developers off the U.S., with 39 GW having been mooted off the U.S. East Coast, including 11 GW off New York and 9.2 GW off New Jersey. Off the U.S. West Coast, floating foundations will be required, with five floating wind lease areas off California awarded to developers in December 2022.”

• “The Biden administration has taken steps to accelerate the build out of offshore wind in the U.S. as it aims for 30 GW of installed capacity by 2030, including a streamlining of the permitting process. Furthermore, the Inflation Reduction Act aims to support investment in offshore wind projects and the supply chain by providing tax credits for developers, equipment manufacturers and shipyards.”

• “Capacity growth in the U.S. is likely to be led by both domestic utilities such as Avangrid Renewables (5.9 GW of proposed capacity by ownership share) and international developers such as Orsted (5.1 GW of proposed capacity). However, high inflation and rising interest rates are exerting cost pressures on developers and could result in timeline slippage for certain projects.”

• “The U.S. wind ‘fleet’ currently comprises 25 vessels and primarily includes oil and gas assets marketed for wind work. A further 25 U.S.-owned and U.S.-built wind vessels are on order, including 19 crew transfer vessels (CTVs) and three service operation vessels (SOVs), although only one wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV) is currently being built in the U.S. (Charybdis). U.S. shipyard capacity and capability for building WTIVs has limitations, and vessel owners in the U.S. also face competition for yard space from the military and a significant price premium, presenting a potential bottleneck for the build-out of offshore wind capacity in the U.S.”

• “Developers of the first wave of projects in the U.S. are likely to use European WTIVs to install turbines, with Jones Act feeder barges set to transport turbine components from U.S. ports to the wind farms. For instance, Maersk Supply Service will provide its WTIV (currently being built in Singapore) to install the turbines at Equinor’s Empire Wind project, with Kirby Offshore to supply U.S.-built feeder barges.”

• “The U.S. offshore wind supply chain is currently immature and is likely to require significant investment and expansion to support future growth of offshore wind capacity. A number of turbine staging areas along the U.S. East Coast have been proposed, while fabricators such as Siemens Gamesa, EEW and Prysmian have all announced plans to build manufacturing plants in the U.S.”

• “On a global level, our long-term scenarios suggest offshore wind will play a vital role in the energy transition, potentially providing between 7 percent and 9 percent of global energy supply by 2050 (it is just 0.4 percent today). Globally, our projections suggest 250 GW of active capacity and 30,000 active turbines by 2030 (today there is 62 GW and 12,400 turbines).”

– Clarksons Research

By Rich Miller