Today, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a report outlining supply chain needs required to reach the United States’ national offshore wind goal of 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. The Demand for a Domestic Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain provides a broad summary of the components, ports, vessels, and workforce that are likely needed to achieve this target.   

“This collaborative study between DOE, NREL, states, and wind industry partners shows that we have significant opportunities to scale the development of a nascent offshore wind industry in the United States and greatly expand domestic manufacturing,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. 

With international offshore wind supply chains already near capacity, there is an immediate need to develop a domestic network to scale up this industry. This report estimates achieving 30 GW of offshore wind capacity will require at least: 

  • 2,100 wind turbines and foundations 
  • 6,800 miles of cable 
  • 5-6 wind turbine installation vessels 
  • 10 feeder barges to transport components 
  • 4 cable lay vessels 
  • An average annual workforce between 12,300 and 49,000 full-time equivalents. 

The report also identifies challenges facing the offshore wind industry—including those from constrained port infrastructure, a shortage of installation vessels, a still-developing workforce, and limited existing manufacturing for critical components. 

“The offshore wind pipeline represents a strong demand for manufacturing and workforce capabilities in the United States,” said Matt Shields, NREL senior offshore wind analyst and principal investigator of the study. “By understanding the barriers we face, we can better work to overcome them and move toward our goal of 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 while also generating significant local economic benefits.”  

This report complements the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition. This February 2022 publication defines dozens of critical actions to build a secure, resilient, and diverse domestic energy industrial base that will solidify America’s role as a global leader in clean energy manufacturing and innovation.  

The Demand for a Domestic Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain is part of a larger project overseen by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC) and conducted by a partnership among NREL, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, and DNV. Additional funding and support are provided by the State of Maryland, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and DOE.  

The project team will build upon this report to deliver a comprehensive offshore wind supply chain road map by the end of 2022. This second report will define scenarios in which all major offshore wind components are fabricated domestically by 2030 and will describe the subsequent impact on regionally distributed jobs, economic impacts, and cost of energy.  The road map will highlight key actions that would need to be taken by different stakeholders to realize these scenarios. 

DOE established NOWRDC in 2018 to address research priorities for offshore wind as defined in the National Offshore Wind Strategy, which was developed jointly by DOE and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. DOE competitively selected the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to administer NOWRDC, with DOE and NYSERDA each providing $20.5 million to fund high-impact research projects that lower the costs of U.S. offshore wind. State agencies in Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Jersey have since joined NOWRDC, resulting in a total investment of around $48 million. NOWRDC’s 26 members include major entities in the offshore wind industry.