In late 2017, DOE announced $20.5 million for a consortium that would conduct research and development to address technological barriers and lower the costs and risks of offshore wind in the United States. Of these funds, $18.5 million would be directed to the consortium, and $2 million would go directly to national laboratory research in support of the consortium.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of the Interior (DOI) identified the following research areas to facilitate the development of the U.S. offshore wind industry:
- Wind plant technology advancement
- Wind resource and physical site characterization
- Installation, operations and maintenance, and supply chain technology solutions.
Addressing these challenges requires industry wide collaboration working closely with the brightest academic and national laboratory scientists.
In June 2018, DOE competitively selected the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) as administrator of the consortium. NYSERDA's proposal brought together a strong founding consortium membership that includes nine leading project developers including Deepwater Wind (developer of the first offshore wind project in the United States), Shell, and Ørsted (the world's largest offshore wind developer), and a strong technical team including the Carbon Trust, Renewables Consulting Group, and the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NYSERDA has committed to matching DOE funds, resulting in a $41 million R&D consortium. In January 2019, six new members joined the Consortium, including state agencies of Maryland, Massachusetts, and Virginia. The Consortium is currently seeking a full-time Executive Director.
While the three R&D pillars of the consortium were set by DOE, these topics need additional specificity in order to develop specific research topics. In order to prioritize the initial R&D topics, the consortium developed a detailed questionnaire to identify the greatest challenges and priorities that developers face in reducing costs and risks as they develop offshore wind projects in the United States. Responses to this questionnaire from the nine founding developers and R&D advisory group formed the basis of the initial R&D roadmap. The R&D Consortium held the first meeting of its Board of Directors in October 2018, at which the initial R&D roadmap was approved for release by the Board. View the initial R&D roadmap on NYSERDA's website. The R&D roadmap will be updated periodically in order to keep up with the R&D needs of the offshore wind industry.
The Consortium will be running a series of requests for proposals (RFPs) throughout the four years of federal funding. The priority technical challenges for the initial 2019 solicitation were published in December 2018; the first R&D solicitation is planned for February 2019. Initial project awards are expected to be selected by the end of March 2019.