2023 has been a year of progress and challenge for the U.S. offshore wind market. OCA’s Senior Consultant, Cameron McPartland, reflects on this and looks at how OCA’s work demonstrates the ongoing innovation, development and delivery of projects in several U.S. states this year.
During the last 12 months OCA has supported various projects across the U.S., applying expertise in offshore construction and project management. These ventures spanned key areas such as the West Coast, Gulf of Mexico, South Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts, underlining the nationwide scale of offshore wind industry expansion through the US. It’s not all been plain sailing, but the outlook is positive.
Around the Coasts
The West Coast has been a focal point for floating offshore wind development following the lease auction in California last December. A major highlight has been OCA’s involvement in pioneering Floating Offshore Wind (FOW) projects which has included the evaluation of port infrastructure requirements in California and Oregon, producing a Wind Turbine Generator (WTG) assembly plan and transitioning floating platform technologies from proven designs to large-scale deployment. These initiatives all require innovative approaches and resilient operational conditions – functionality that the industry’s technological advancements are striving to produce.
The Gulf of Mexico with its long history of offshore construction, steel fabrication and shipbuilding offers new innovations and opportunities as well as unique challenges for the industry. OCA’s feasibility phase studies in the Gulf of Mexico show there is certainly appetite and opportunity for development to take place, but that some innovative new construction solutions will shape the locations and nature of future of offshore wind projects in this region going forward.
The East Coast is where the industry started in the US, and where it is the most mature. Projects continue to be developed, working towards COPs and soon thereafter, PPA auction bids. OCA has supported several successful bidders in the last year, with both consultancy expertise and resources in projects. OCA has also been overseeing the production of export and type test cables at the most prolific of the US fabrications sites, Nexans in Charleston, South Carolina. OCA’s role emphasizes the importance of precision and quality in every aspect of production, and it has been great to continue to be involved in the US-based fabrication for a global array of projects, including several that that have reached BOEM approval in the last 12 months.
Offshore, both Vineyard Wind 1 and Southfork projects have started installation this year. South Fork achieved First Power recently using Export Cables that OCA has overseen in South Carolina, while more than six years of support to the Vineyard Wind 1 project is close to achieving the same milestone. It’s also worth noting that the project team in 2023 reflects a wider trend in the industry, with far fewer expats and far more US citizens working to deliver it. OCA’s own involvement mirrors this, with the last of our non-US staff rolling off the project at the end of this year, with all remaining resources being drawn from our US-based staff.
2023 has also thrown up some critical challenges for the offshore wind sector and not just in the US. Global inflation has meant that capital is more expensive, and costs for construction have increased. Recent market incidents, such as the termination of power purchase agreements and shelving of manufacturing plans due to rising costs, underscore the urgency of addressing these challenges, particularly if the US wants supply chain growth, with the job creation that it will bring. Fortunately, there seems to have been a global collective realization that changes are needed, from which the US market should benefit.
2024 and Beyond
Looking ahead to the coming year, the U.S. offshore wind market is well set for further growth. Recent moves by State governments in New York and New Jersey will support an emerging supply chain and increased inter-state collaboration in New England will drive down energy procurement costs. Further new lease area auctions are due to take place in Central Atlantic, Oregon in quarter 2 and the Gulfs of Maine and Mexico in quarters 3 and 4 respectively. All these activities indicate there is continued momentum for the U.S market to secure greater offshore wind capacity. In particular, increasing the pipeline of projects, and taking measures to regularize that pipeline between States, are vital steps towards reaching clean energy job creation and power generation goals.
OCA is looking forward to continuing to support U.S. offshore wind projects with our team of friendly experts. We provide valuable planning and delivery advice through all phases of project development and execution – the preferred choice for offshore wind construction expertise. Please reach out to find out more.