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DOE's Strategy to Accelerate and Expand Offshore Wind Deployment

US Offshore Wind Strategy
DOE mapped out its offshore wind strategy (file photo)

Published Mar 30, 2023 7:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its Offshore Wind Energy Strategy, a comprehensive plan uniting many parts of the agency to accelerate efforts to meet the goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and setting the nation on a pathway to 110 GW or more by 2050. As part of the overall initiatives by the U.S. government focusing on renewable energy, DOE is accelerating its efforts with a focus on lowering costs, developing leadership in floating offshore wind design, and building co-generation technologies.

“The transformative potential of offshore wind energy is critical to achieving President Biden’s clean energy goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “As our Offshore Wind Energy Strategy shows, we’re leveraging all resources across our department to harness this clean and reliable American energy source, which will create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs and revitalize coastal communities.”

One of the primary goals of the efforts focuses on lower the cost of the electricity delivered from offshore wind generation. DOE says that its goal is to reduce the cost of fixed-bottom offshore to $51 per megawatt-hour from a current level of $73 per megawatt-hour. The agency is sponsoring R&D as well as efforts to promote development, transmission research, and supply chain development.

A key part of the strategy focuses on the development and deploying floating offshore wind. DOE is leading the efforts in response to the Biden administration’s calls to make the U.S. a leader in the technology. DOE launched the “Floating Offshore Wind Shot,” which aims to reduce the costs of electricity from floating turbines by more than 70 percent. The strategy sets a goal of reducing the cost of floating offshore wind energy in deep water far from shore to $45 per megawatt-hour by 2035.

About two-thirds of the nation’s offshore wind resource potential is in areas with water depths over approximately 200 feet, according to DOE. Last year, DOE along with the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, and Transportation hosted a summit as part of the goal to deploy 15 GW of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035. 

Yesterday, DOE also announced the Phase One winners in its three phase Floating Offshore Wind Readiness (FLOWIN) program. Nine companies focusing on addressing elements of the critical manufacturing and supply chain challenges were selected. Each receives $100,000 plus credit for $75,000 of technical support from DOE’s national laboratories. The second pass is set to launch which focuses on mass manufacturing and offers prizes for up to five winners each at $450,000 plus $100,000 in technical services. The total FLOWIN Prize has a cash value of $5.85 million plus up to nearly $1.2 million in technical support.

The Biden administration highlights that these efforts are a continuation of the strategy mapped out that included holding up to seven offshore wind lease sales by 2025. After the record New York Bight auction as well as the Carolina Long Bay and first California auctions, they are moving forward with the Gulf of Mexico while also targeting offshore Oregon and Maine, and the development of areas including off Florida, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. 

Supporting this are other elements of the government, including the Maritime Administration (MARAD) which last year awarded grants for nearly $100 million for port projects, MARAD is focusing on staging and assembly facilities, docks for the specialized vessels, and infrastructure development. A further $660 million in funding for port-related infrastructure projects is included in the FY 2023 budget. 

DOE highlights that its new strategic plan connects the work happening at the Wind Energy Technology Office with other sectors of the agency. They report that 15 other DOE officers have specific roles as they work to continue the investments in research and development.