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As the United States prepares to enter the global offshore wind market -- what opportunities and challenges lie ahead? The answer to this question, among many others, is explored in two new reports released today by the Energy Department.
The reports -- Offshore Wind Market and Economic Analysis and U.S. Offshore Wind Manufacturing and Supply Chain Development -- provide detailed assessments of the economic and energy potential of our nation’s nascent offshore wind industry. Part of the Department’s national offshore wind strategy, these reports are among a suite of tools designed to assist offshore wind project developers and industry stakeholders.
Developing A Domestic Manufacturing Base
While the U.S. is not yet an established player in the offshore wind market, the Manufacturing and Supply Chain Development report commissioned by the Energy Department finds there is enormous potential. The report suggests that the strong domestic supply capacity for the U.S. land based wind market indicates that, in the future, the U.S. can also supply significant portions of the offshore wind market.
To realize the potential for a full-scale offshore wind market, the United States must overcome three key barriers including: the high cost of offshore wind energy, infrastructure challenges, and regulatory challenges -- including uncertainty surrounding leasing and permitting processes. To address these market barriers the Energy Department is supporting more than 50 projects -- including seven projects to support innovative offshore installations in state and federal waters -- aimed at decreasing offshore wind costs and driving greater performance.
Assessing the Potential Economic Impact
The Offshore Wind Market and Economic Analysis report presents a variety of facts, figures and projections related to the offshore wind industry -- both at a domestic and global-scale.
Assessing the big picture, the report finds there are about 4 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind installations worldwide. While most offshore wind activity is centered in northwestern Europe, China continues to gain ground with a cumulative installed capacity of 200 megawatts. In the United States, 33 announced offshore wind projects are in varying stages of development across the country. Of these projects, nine have reached the advanced development phase -- representing nearly 3.4 GW of planned capacity.
To assess the potential economic impact of a full-scale, domestic offshore wind industry, report authors analyzed a variety of future deployment scenarios. Ultimately, the report estimates that the U.S. offshore wind industry could support up to 200,000 manufacturing, construction, operation and supply chain jobs across the country and drive more than $70 billion in annual investments by 2030.