The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, established in 2018, is a not-for-profit public-private partnership focused on advancing offshore wind technology in the United States through high-impact research projects and cost-effective and responsible development to maximize economic benefits
In late 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $20.5 million for a consortium that would conduct research and development (R&D) 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 DOE national laboratory research in support of the consortium.
DOE and the Department of the Interior 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 National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium. NYSERDA’s proposal brought together a strong founding consortium membership, with 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 DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NYSERDA has committed to matching DOE’s funds, resulting in a $41 million R&D consortium. State agencies in Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia have since joined, resulting in a total investment of around $48 million.
While the three R&D pillars of the Consortium were set by DOE, they needed additional specificity to identify initial research topics. In order to prioritize these 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, published in October, 2018. The R&D roadmap will be updated periodically in order to keep up with the R&D needs of the offshore wind industry. The latest version of the Roadmap can be found on NOWRDC’s website.
The Consortium ran a series of requests for proposals (RFPs) throughout the DOE award period, resulting in over 50 projects.
The first RFP, issued in 2019, is funding 20 projects across all three R&D pillars:
- Offshore wind plant technology advancement, which includes optimizing the performance of wind plants; reducing the costs of turbine support structures (e.g. foundations); developing innovative mooring and anchoring technologies for floating wind; and reducing the cost and risk associated with the transmission and distribution of electricity from offshore wind
- Offshore wind power resource and physical site characterization, which includes comprehensive wind resource assessment and the development of a metocean reference site
- Installation, operations &maintenance, and supply chain, which includes heavy lift vessel alternatives, offshore wind digitization through advanced analytics, and technology solutions to accelerate the U.S. supply chain.
The second RFP resulted in 20 more projects announced in 2021, including:
- 5 projects to enable large-scale turbines
- 4 projects to develop innovative support structures (including foundations and moorings) for very large fixed-bottom and floating offshore wind turbines to achieve economies of scale
- 3 projects that propose innovative solutions to supply chain and installation challenges including spiral welded towers, a self-positioning blade installation tool, and unmanned aerial devices for inspections
- 5 projects to support innovations in grid interconnection and transmission
- 3 technology development projects to mitigate use conflicts, including wildlife monitoring and radar interference.
The third RFP resulted in 11 more projects announced in 2022, including:
- 3 supply chain projects to facilitate U.S. manufacturing, ensure quality component production, and simplify transportation of major wind plant components
- 3 asset monitoring and inspection projects to reduce operational costs for offshore wind farms
- 2 ocean area coexistence projects to monitor protected marine mammals and design floating offshore wind arrays to be compatible with fishing
- 3 transmission projects to improve the resiliency of subsea power cables and maintain grid stability with increasing contributions of offshore wind power.
These awards mark the full distribution of NOWRDC’s initial funding received from NYSERDA and DOE. For a full list of projects funded by the Consortium (including one project funded by a state and not DOE), see NOWRDC’s project database.
Additional information on the NOWRDC, as well as news items and other regular updates, can be found at NationalOffshoreWind.org.