FEATURE: Burgeoning US offshore wind industry will hit important milestones in 2022

Source: By Jared Anderson, S&P Global • Posted: Monday, January 3, 2022

With more than 30 GW of offshore wind power capacity under development along the US East Coast, power market participants are paying close attention to when these projects will begin delivering power into the regional markets, with several milestones expected in 2022.

Some large state-level offshore wind solicitation winners were announced in December, and those projects will be watched in 2022.

Massachusetts on Dec. 17 awarded the Mayflower Wind offshore project 400 MW of capacity. In 2019, the state awarded 804 MW of capacity for the project, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary Shell New Energies US and Ocean Winds of Spain.

The state also awarded 1,232 MW of capacity to the proposed Commonwealth Wind offshore project Dec. 17. That is a joint venture between Avangrid subsidiary Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Avangrid, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, is also working on the nation’s first federally approved offshore wind project, the 800-MW Vineyard Wind Project.

Also, on Dec. 17, the Maryland Public Service Commission awarded offshore wind renewable energy credits, or ORECs, to two developers that have proposed more than 1,600 MW of electricity to be built off Maryland.

The decision in the states’ second round of offshore wind solicitations supports US Wind and Skipjack Offshore Energy in building separate projects, the Public Service Commission said. Denmark’s Ørsted is developing Skipjack, which was awarded 846 MW, and the US Wind project was awarded 808.5 MW.

Additional project milestones

Federal permitting reviews will be important in the coming years as the Biden administration has set a goal of installing 30 GW of offshore wind power capacity by 2030.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which handles federal offshore wind leasing and permitting, currently has nine construction and operations plans under review.

BOEM has targeted Aug. 1, 2022, to publish a draft environmental impact statement for Dominion Energy Virginia’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial Project in the Federal Register.

A draft environmental impact statement is expected in 2022 for the Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind project, a 50-50 joint venture between EDF Renewables and Shell New Energies, for a 1,510 MW project off New Jersey.

BOEM has plans to review at least 16 construction and operations plans for commercial offshore wind power facilities by 2025, which would represent more than 19 GW of capacity, according to a statement.

The Biden administration is preparing for lease sales in the New York Bight and offshore the Carolinas and California in 2022, while working with states, tribes and key stakeholders to explore wind power potential in the Gulf of Maine and in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as offshore Oregon and Hawaii, BOEM said.

Nearing completion

The US Interior Department said Nov. 24 that it had approved construction and operations for the 132-MW South Fork Wind project off Rhode Island that will supply power to New York.

The South Fork Wind project being developed by a 50-50 joint venture between Ørsted and Massachusetts-based Eversource Energy will be about 19 miles southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island, and 35 miles east of Montauk Point, New York.

The project is expected to be fully permitted by early 2022, with commercial operations beginning at the end of 2023, Eversource has said.

The 800-MW Vineyard Wind project will also move forward in 2022, having closed financing in September 2021, the first large-scale US offshore wind project to hit that milestone.

Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners are jointly developing the project off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

The companies said onshore work should be underway shortly in Barnstable, Massachusetts, and offshore work will begin in 2022. The project, which is expected to come online in 2023, has power purchase agreements with electric distribution subsidiaries of National Grid USA Unitil and Eversource Energy.

It is also possible additional US offshore wind projects will close financing arrangements in 2022. However, the Biden administration’s Build Back Better legislation containing several renewable energy incentives and tax credits was delayed in late 2021, creating additional uncertainty around offshore wind project financing.