Advancing US offshore wind through innovation and collaboration
Parul Dhall, Senior Director of Low Carbon Technologies, NOV (NOV: NYSE) and Alberto Morandi, General Manager, Houston, GustoMSC
Propelled by regulatory certainty and the demand for electricity from renewable energy in coastal areas, the use of offshore wind to generate power is rapidly expanding in the US. BloombergNEF forecasts that the country will reach 26.5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 54.3 GW by 2035. Like all new industries, however, offshore wind also faces challenges.
Indeed, solving problems, cost reduction and scaling, standardized and local fabrication, workforce development, and ramping up the supply chain will be necessary for the speedy development and efficient and safe deployment of new and innovative offshore wind technologies.
Fixed offshore wind turbines are installed on fixed-bottom foundations, such as monopiles, in shallow water depths of up to 60 m. For floating offshore wind, turbines are installed on floating platforms in deeper waters farther offshore. While the US currently has only 42 megawatts (MW) installed offshore wind capacity in Rhode Island and Virginia, the government has set ambitious offshore wind goals.
By 2030, the federal government wants 30 GW offshore wind capacity and 15 GW floating offshore wind capacity by 2035. To meet these goals, it offers generous incentives for businesses associated with offshore wind projects: an investment tax credit (ITC) of 30% and a manufacturing tax credit (MTC). For example, a vessel receives a 10% MTC.
The government is also expediting leasing vast sections of federal acreage offshore for commercial-scale wind projects. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has proposed plans for up to seven lease sales from 2022 to 2025 in the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, Central Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, offshore the Carolinas, California, and Oregon. So far this year, BOEM has held lease sales in Carolina Long Bay and New York Bight, and the first floating wind lease sale is expected in California in 1Q 2023.
Challenges for growth in US offshore wind include high costs and lack of supply chain, port, and transmission infrastructure constraints, and the need for Jones Act-compliant vessels
States are also advancing offshore wind development by requiring specific shares of electric power to be generated by energy from renewable sources. These programs are called renewable portfolio standards (RPS). By 2030, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have set RPS goals of 31% and 35%, respectively. Several states and Washington, D.C. have set 100% RPS goals by 2050, including California, aiming for 5 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045.
Challenges for growth in US offshore wind include high costs and lack of supply chain, port, and transmission infrastructure constraints, and the need for Jones Act-compliant vessels. Establishing the US supply chain requires investments in new manufacturing facilities and local engineering and installation capabilities. Regional consortia are crucial. Tax credits will sunset in the early 2030s, so offshore wind projects need to develop in ambitious timelines, especially given fabrication capacity and supply chain constraints.
The Jones Act is a federal law that requires goods shipped between US ports to be transported on US-built, -owned, and -operated vessels. Historically the Jones Act has been applied to secure US shipbuilding and merchant marine capacity in times of geopolitical instability. To meet the 30-GW target, the US needs four to six Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessels. Shipyards need about three years to build these specialized vessels, so developers must plan accordingly to meet project timelines.
NOV can solve these challenges with a systemic approach because we have proven designs and technologies and a 150-year track record in the offshore oil and gas industry. Many offshore oil and gas technologies and skills transfer to and enable offshore wind projects, including fixed platforms, jack-ups, semi-submersibles, mooring systems, and cable-lay systems.
In addition, we can de-risk fixed and floating offshore wind projects in the US because of our experience in Asia and Europe over the last 30 years. Through GustoMSC and the rest of our Marine and Construction business unit, we have gained invaluable knowledge of how to best optimize platforms and vessels in the harshest environments worldwide, from the entire construction process to the logistics supply chain and project life cycle. About 80% of the world’s installed offshore wind power outside of China has been constructed with GustoMSC-designed jack-up vessels and equipment.
NOV is a key partner in developing the first Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation vessel that is driving the supply chain. Dominion Energy’s Charybdis is a GustoMSC™ NG-16000X-SJ jack-up vessel design that will feature increased carrying and lifting capacity and greater lifting height above the deck. The jack-up will accommodate up to 119 people, a 2,200-ton fixed boom crane, and an 11,500-ton carrying capacity. This cargo capacity is equivalent to more than 5,000 F-150 pick-up trucks. Keppel AmFELS in Brownsville, Texas, is expected to deliver the 472-ft long vessel by the end of next year.
As for the emerging floating wind market, our patent-pending Tri-Floater semisubmersible floating foundation recently completed scale model testing. Based on proven semi-submersible technology developed over decades of solid technical assurance and performance in the field, the cost-effective design features a shallow draft in the port that expands the possible ports that can support their development. The design also reduces steel requirements, capex, and overall project execution risk. A solid technical assurance process allows NOV to focus on the most important aspect of floating wind: supply chain integration. Here NOV can integrate the supply of a floating wind foundation from the anchor to the base of the tower.
NOV is well positioned to help the US achieve its ambitious offshore wind and floating wind targets and advance the energy transition toward a more sustainable future.
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