US Offshore Wind Farms Are Being Strangled With Pink Tape

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This text is republished from The Dialog beneath a Inventive Commons license.America’s first large-scale offshore wind farms started sending energy to the Northeast in early 2024, however a wave of wind farm challenge cancellations and rising prices have left many individuals with doubts about the business’s future within the US.A number of huge hitters, together with Ørsted, Equinor, BP, and Avangrid, have canceled contracts or sought to renegotiate them in current months. Pulling out meant the businesses confronted cancellation penalties starting from $16 million to a number of hundred million {dollars} per challenge. It additionally resulted in Siemens Power, the world’s largest maker of offshore wind generators, anticipating monetary losses in 2024 of round $2.2 billion.Altogether, initiatives that had been canceled by the tip of 2023 had been anticipated to whole greater than 12 gigawatts of energy, representing greater than half of the capability within the challenge pipeline.So, what occurred, and might the US offshore wind business recuperate?I lead the College of Massachusetts Lowell’s Middle for Wind-Power Science, Know-how, and Analysis (WindSTAR) and Middle for Power Innovation, and comply with the business intently. The offshore wind business’s troubles are difficult, nevertheless it’s removed from lifeless within the US, and a few policy modifications could assist it discover firmer footing.A Cascade of Approval ChallengesGetting offshore wind initiatives permitted and authorized within the US takes years and is fraught with uncertainty for builders, extra so than in Europe or Asia.Earlier than an organization bids on a US challenge, the developer should plan the procurement of your complete wind farm, together with making reservations to buy parts akin to generators and cables, development gear, and ships. The bid should even be cost-competitive, so firms generally tend to bid low and never anticipate surprising prices, which provides to monetary uncertainty and danger.The profitable US bidder then purchases an costly ocean lease, costing within the tons of of tens of millions of {dollars}. But it surely has no proper to construct a wind challenge but.Earlier than beginning to construct, the developer should conduct website assessments to find out what sort of foundations are attainable and determine the size of the challenge. The developer should consummate an settlement to promote the ability it produces, determine a degree of interconnection to the ability grid, after which put together a development and operation plan, which is topic to additional environmental evaluate. All of that takes about 5 years, and it’s solely the start.For a challenge to maneuver ahead, builders could have to safe dozens of permits from native, tribal, state, regional, and federal companies. The federal Bureau of Ocean Power Administration, which has jurisdiction over leasing and administration of the seabed, should seek the advice of with companies which have regulatory obligations over totally different facets within the ocean, such because the armed forces, Environmental Protection Company, and Nationwide Marine Fisheries Service, in addition to teams together with business and leisure fishing, Indigenous teams, delivery, harbor managers, and property homeowners.

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