World’s Biggest Offshore-Wind Company Sees U.S. Projects Lagging

Source: By Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg • Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2020

The long-awaited boom of America’s nascent offshore-wind industry may arrive even later than expected.

Orsted A/S, the world’s biggest offshore wind developer, expects four of its projects constituting about 2.8 gigawatts to be delayed beyond the expected 2023 and 2024 construction years, according to its interim financial report. Orsted’s explanation: it’s still waiting for clarity on the projects’ federal permitting process.

“We had expected to have received the notices of intent for the most progressed projects, but we can now see that will not happen before the election,” said Marianne Wiinholt, Orsted’s chief financial officer, on a call with reporters Wednesday. “We have to stand still for a period.”

The delay comes as offshore-wind proponents warn that limited resources at the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management are constraining development. But funding decisions — including whether to hire more staff to work through a backlog of wind project applications — fall to Congress, not the U.S. Interior Department agency.

Representatives of the bureau did not immediately address an email seeking comment.

So far, only two small offshore wind farms have been completed in the U.S. The bureau is moving closer to a final decision on the first major offshore project in federal waters: Avangrid Inc.’s 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind farm near Massachusetts. It is on track for possible approval before the end of the year. Though the government’s extra environmental scrutiny of Vineyard Wind is expected to make it easier for subsequent ventures to win approval, the slow pace has frustrated developers.

— With assistance by Jennifer A Dlouhy, and Will Mathis