U.S. sets ambitious new goals for floating offshore wind

Written by Nick Blenkey
floating offshore wind shot image

Image: DOE

The White House yesterday announced a new multi-agency floating offshore wind initiative. Called the Floating Offshore Wind Shot, it will see the administration advance lease areas in deep waters in order to deploy 15 GW of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035. This builds on President Biden’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030, which will be largely met using fixed-bottom offshore wind technology. Additionally, the Floating Offshore Wind Shot includes a goal of reducing the cost of floating offshore wind energy by more than 70%, to $45 per megawatt-hour by 2035.

A White House fact sheet says that achieving this cost target will require focused research, development, and demonstration to catalyze continued cost reductions, with a focus on manufacturing, engineering, and continued increases of offshore wind turbine capacity. Agencies will also continue collaborating to develop the robust domestic supply chain and transmission infrastructure needed to accelerate floating as well as fixed-bottom offshore wind.

The fact sheet notes that conventional offshore wind turbines can be secured directly to the sea floor in shallow waters near the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. However, deep-water areas that require floating platforms are home to two-thirds of America’s offshore wind energy potential, including along the West Coast and in the Gulf of Maine.

The administration aims to capture this potential and says its actions will “position the U.S. to lead the world on floating offshore wind technology.”

Globally, only 0.1 GW of floating offshore wind has been deployed to date, compared with over 50 GW of fixed-bottom offshore wind, and the Administration sees this as an opportunity for the U.S. to become a frontrunner on floating offshore wind technologies.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT INVESTMENTS

To support the new goals, the Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the availability of nearly $50 million—including support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—for research, development, and demonstration funding:

Floating Offshore Wind Readiness Prize: This week, DOE announced a $6.85 million prize competition that challenges competitors to optimize floating platform technologies and work to get them ready for wide-scale domestic manufacturing and commercialization.

Floating Offshore Wind Array Design Project: DOE announced a $3 million project funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to develop a set of modeling tools to help industry and researchers design commercial-scale floating offshore wind farm arrays in U.S. waters, including their anchors, mooring lines, and subsea power cables.

West Coast Ports Analysis: DOE announced a nearly $1 million project funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reduce key infrastructure challenges by outlining a network of West Coast ports and upgrades needed to deploy commercial-scale floating offshore wind.

West Coast Transmission Analysis: DOE announced an analysis to review existing transmission studies and identify research gaps related to offshore wind integration in California, Oregon, and Washington. This work will help inform future analysis efforts that will aid in transmission planning and buildout.

Atlantis II: DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) intends to announce $31 million in funding through phase two of its Aerodynamic Turbines, Lighter and Afloat, with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program. The ATLANTIS program focuses on novel forms of systems engineering for floating offshore wind systems to drive down costs. This second phase of the ATLANTIS program will focus on experimental testing in ocean, lake, and tank and tunnel environments to further develop new technology for floating offshore wind turbines.

Environmental Research Award: DOE and BOEM announced a $1.6 million project to support coexistence of floating offshore wind with bats on the West Coast of the United States.

Ocean Co-Use and Transmission Research Awards: The National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium, a partnership established with funding from DOE and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, announced five projects totaling $3.5 million to facilitate ocean area coexistence with marine mammals and fishing and to support offshore wind transmission for both fixed-bottom and floating technologies.

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