The Wind Energy Technologies Office supports market acceleration projects aimed at understanding and mitigating market barriers to the development of the U.S. offshore wind market.
These projects address both siting and supply chain-related issues, and are broken down into two major categories:
Offshore Wind Energy Resources and the Environment
- Wind Resource Characterization and Design Conditions
- Environmental Surveys, Monitoring Tools, and Resources
- Radar and other Electromagnetic Interference Research
Planning, Constructing, and Integrating Offshore Wind Energy
- Transmission Planning and Interconnection Studies
- Evaluating Vessels and Ports
- Manufacturing and Supply Chain Development
- Optimizing Infrastructure and Operations.
Offshore Wind Energy Resources and the Environment
Establishing environmental parameters is an important piece of the offshore wind research agenda. This includes characterizing offshore wind resources, understanding the environmental impacts of offshore wind construction on wildlife and the marine environment, and mitigating the impact of offshore wind turbines on radar and other communication and navigation equipment. The links below will take you to resources and projects funded by the Wind Energy Technologies Office covering these topics.
Wind Resource Characterization and Design Conditions
- AWS Truepower has developed a Web-based, national inventory called the U.S. Met-Ocean Data Center for Offshore Renewable Energy (USMODCORE). Over the course of the project, AWS Truepower established data needs for wind energy resources and design conditions, identified existing sources of relevant data, and carried out a gaps analysis to establish long-term requirements for new data to be gathered and disseminated through national public-private collaboration initiatives.
- Cornell University and Indiana University integrated wind data from remote sensing, aerial and satellite measurements, and meteorological towers to produce a high resolution wind characterization for Lake Erie. This project also analyzed instruments and developing best practices for each measurement type.
- Savannah River National Laboratory examined what conditions produce breaking waves and how breaking waves can impact offshore wind turbine structures such as monopile foundations in the southeastern region of the United States. The project also developed a dynamically coupled modeling tool to simulate two hurricanes between North Carolina and Florida.
- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) procured two WindSentinel wind resource assessment buoys from Axys Technologies, Inc. that use lidar technology to accurately measure wind speed, wind direction, and turbulence offshore up to blade-tip heights of 200 meters (m), in addition to gathering other meteorological and oceanographic data. Buoys have been deployed off the coasts of Virginia, New Jersey, and California. The data collected from the buoys are publicly available. The buoys provide long-term offshore wind profile data that will support research needed to accelerate the utilization of offshore wind energy in the United States, and when they are not being used by DOE, they can be loaned to other interested parties.
- PNNL led a team of four DOE National Laboratories in organizing a March, 2019 workshop on Research Needs for Offshore Wind Resource Characterization, bringing together representatives of the offshore wind industry and the marine environmental research community to share research results, identify knowledge and data gaps, and prioritize metocean research needed to successfully develop U.S. offshore wind projects. Following this workshop, PNNL continues to address challenges related to offshore wind resource characterization.
Environmental Surveys, Monitoring Tools, and Resources
- Tethys, hosted by PNNL, is a database that catalogs results of environmental monitoring and research efforts on wind and marine energy development worldwide to help industry regulators and energy project developers deploy ocean energy projects in an environmentally responsible manner. Tethys is populated, in part, through the WREN (Working Together to Resolve the Environmental Impacts of Renewable Energy) effort—an international partnership under the International Energy Agency focused on sharing information on environmental research findings and solutions.
- In 2021–2022, DOE and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced over $15 million in funding for projects that will provide critical environmental and wildlife data to support offshore wind development. This includes projects to monitor wildlife and fisheries on the East Coast, as well as projects focused on preparing the West Coast for floating offshore wind development.
- DOE is supporting a joint funding effort with NOAA's Sea Grant and Fisheries offices and four universities to invest in research to advance the co-existence of fishing, coastal communities, and regional ocean renewable energy development.
- With funding from DOE, SMRU is working to develop and test a low-cost, easily deployable array of synchronized microphones to detect and locate marine mammals near areas with offshore wind development, as well as measure noise produced by construction activities.
- The Biodiversity Research Institute studied the wildlife (bird, sea turtle, and marine mammal) distributions, densities, and movements on the mid-Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf between 2012 and 2014. Using a combination of boat and high resolution digital video aerial surveys, the Mid-Atlantic Baseline Studies provide regulators, developers, and other stakeholders for offshore wind energy with information that can be used to identify important wildlife areas, data gaps, and approaches for collecting and incorporating natural resource data into decision-making.
- Building on a pilot study of acoustic bat and marine radar surveys funded by the Department of the Interior, the Energy Department has provided Stantec with additional funding to expand their study of the migratory patterns of bats to include proposed locations of offshore wind farms. These data will inform future siting, permitting, mitigation, and operational decisions for offshore wind development.
- Oregon State University is developing an integrated sensor array monitoring system that includes data post-processing and statistical-based software to monitor avian and bat collisions with offshore wind turbines. The system makes it possible to quantify interactions, including collisions, and to identify types of animals. Oregon State University is working with DOE to develop this technology further, improving its ability to detect small targets such as bats.
- DOE is also funding additional approaches to monitor avian and bat collisions with offshore wind turbines.
Radar and other Electromagnetic Interference Research
- As offshore wind develops, so does the possibility that some turbines would be located within the line of site of coastal radar systems. If not mitigated, such wind development could cause clutter and interference for radar systems involved in air traffic control, weather forecasting, homeland security, and national defense missions. See the WINDExchange web page for DOE and interagency work to mitigate wind energy developments impacts on radar systems. A study from the Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory evaluates the potential impacts of existing and planned offshore wind facilities on coastal radars.
- A concern regarding offshore wind development is the potential for interference to existing electronic and acoustical equipment. A team led by researchers from the University of Texas conducted a baseline evaluation of electromagnetic and acoustical challenges to sea surface, subsurface, and airborne electronic systems presented by offshore wind farms.
Planning, Constructing, and Integrating Offshore Wind Energy
WETO is also working to enable the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry by funding projects aimed at the development of planning, construction, and integration practices, which will ensure offshore wind energy is deployed in a cost-effective manner with minimal risk to the electrical grid. By developing a better understanding of offshore wind supply chains, available U.S. ports and vessels, and requirements for connecting offshore wind energy to existing grid infrastructure, DOE can assist industry in the responsible planning and deployment of this abundant energy source.
Transmission Planning and Interconnection Studies
- Led by NREL, the Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Study is evaluating coordinated transmission solutions to enable offshore wind deployment on the East Coast, addressing gaps in existing analyses.
- Led by PNNL, the West Coast Transmission Analysis will review existing transmission studies and identify research gaps related to offshore wind integration in California, Oregon, and Washington. This work will help inform future analysis efforts that will aid in transmission planning and buildout.
- ABB assessed the likely impacts of offshore wind development in the various regions of the United States from the electric utility perspective. This work included developing energy production profiles, performing an initial integration analysis, and evaluating the applicability of traditional integration study methods and potential energy collection and delivery technologies. ABB's final report suggest that the United States has sufficient offshore wind energy resources to enable the installation of at least 54 GW of offshore wind capacity—enough to power nearly 17 million homes—and that the appropriate transmission technologies already exist to connect this offshore wind energy to the grid.
- The University of Delaware examined potential effects of wind penetration on the Mid-Atlantic electric grid and facilitated grid operations planning by identifying necessary system upgrades and grid management strategies to ensure reliable and efficient operation of the electric system. The final report analyzes wind production profiles and variability and assesses the effectiveness or north-south transmission, and analyzes how these factors affect the need for grid upgrades and congestion management in PJM.
- Case Western University evaluated potential impacts of offshore wind on the electric grid in the Great Lakes region and determined requirements for interconnection, control systems, and the application of additional support for different transmission systems. The research identifies operating changes and equipment upgrades needed to facilitate and integrate offshore wind.
- Duke Energy Business Services examined the potential system impacts of offshore wind development on the Duke Energy Carolinas system, determined the costs of upgrading the transmission system to support large-scale offshore projects, and assessed strategies for system integration and management. The first phase of the study identified high-voltage transmission infrastructure needs.
Evaluating Vessels and Ports
- With funding from DOE under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, NREL is conducting a West Coast Ports Strategy Study to outline a network of U.S. West Coast ports and upgrades needed to deploy commercial-scale floating offshore wind.
- Douglas-Westwood investigated the anticipated demand for various vessel types associated with offshore wind development under multiple growth scenarios, projecting installed capacity and vessel requirements out to 2030. The final report assesses vessel needs under each scenario and the United States' ability to meet those needs.
- GL Garrad Hassan America carried out a review of the current capability of U.S. ports to support offshore wind project development and assessed the challenges and opportunities related to upgrading this capability to meet various offshore wind industry growth scenarios in the United States. The final port assessment report includes case studies of six ports from different geographic regions and varied levels of interest and preparedness toward offshore wind, which yielded a set of best practices for U.S. ports looking to support the offshore wind market.
- NREL’s offshore wind supply chain roadmap project includes a quantification of the vessels needed to install and service the first 30 GW of U.S. offshore wind.
Manufacturing and Supply Chain Development
- NREL’s U.S. Offshore Workforce Assessment evaluates what the U.S. offshore wind energy workforce needs to achieve the Biden administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 based on scenarios with 25% and 100% domestic content. The report also identifies actions the country could take to meet the growing demand for offshore wind energy jobs.
- NREL is developing a Supply Chain Roadmap for Offshore Wind Energy in partnership with DOE, the National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium, and the Business Network for Offshore Wind. The first phase of the project summarizes the components, ports, vessels, and workforce needed to deploy 30 GW of U.S. offshore wind.
- In 2022, the Biden Administration launched a Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership to grow a U.S.-based offshore wind supply chain.
- DOE’s annual Offshore Wind Market Report assesses global offshore wind trends 2015 and provides details on U.S. offshore wind projects. The report summarizes domestic and global market developments, technology trends, and economic data to help U.S. offshore wind industry stakeholders, including policymakers, regulators, developers, financiers, and supply chain participants, to identify barriers and opportunities. This annual report, now authored by NREL, builds on the foundation laid by the Navigant Consortium, which produced three market reports between 2012 and 2014.
- The Global Wind Network (GLWN) assessed the key factors that determine wind energy component manufacturing costs and pricing on a global basis in order to provide a better understanding of the factors that will help enhance the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, and reduce installed system costs. Building on their existing database of wind energy supplier capabilities, GLWN interviewed major companies involved in the offshore global production of wind energy and collaborated with established wind industry partners, associates, and National Institutes of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnerships in the coastal states.
- Navigant surveyed uncertainties around the United States' offshore wind manufacturing and supply chain capabilities. The final report projects potential component-level supply chain needs under three demand scenarios, and identifies key supply chain challenges and opportunities facing both the future U.S. offshore wind market and current suppliers of the nation's land-based wind market.
Optimizing Infrastructure and Operations
- The FLoating Offshore Wind ReadINess (FLOWIN) Prize, launched in 2022 as part of the Floating Offshore Wind Shot, is a three-phase competition challenging competitors to optimize floating platform technologies and work to get them ready for wide-scale domestic manufacturing and commercialization.
- GL Garrad Hassan America has identified and quantified key areas of offshore wind project installation and operations where opportunities exist to reduce the cost of energy produced by offshore wind plants.
- DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted an assessment of optimized installation, operation, and maintenance strategies and technologies for offshore wind projects in U.S. waters to evaluate their relative costs and benefits. The report combines NREL's offshore wind cost modeling capabilities and those of the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, along with the operating experience of an expert industry panel.