Today, the U.S. is the proud owner of one offshore wind project with commercial setup – the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island – but the list of offshore wind projects in various stages of development across the U.S. is roughly twelve. These projects have the ability to provide a cluster of jobs in the U.S. and a pulsating amount of clean, reliable energy to a number of the country’s biggest cities. This is because of the closeness that the offshore wind installations would have to coastal population centers. It’s been a long time since when the U.S. has taken the mantle of leader in onshore wind technology, and now, by extension, there is an emerging offshore wind industry. Offshore winds are credited with abundance, strength and consistency in relation to onshore winds. The energy cost that comes accompanying offshore wind projects has also been decreasing quite sedately, which has brought into limelight, the cost-competitiveness of offshore wind when compared to other energy sources.
The offshore oil and gas industry has played a vital role in the early build-up of U.S. offshore wind projects. A motley crew of design engineers, equipment suppliers, fabricators, and vessel operators who traditionally service the offshore oil and gas industry were engaged in developing the Block Island Wind Farm and are also involved in the current and new projects under development.
The overall experience with U.S. offshore oil and gas projects readily translates to offshore wind projects. These because, the issues posed are similar in more ways than one such as operational, commercial, and legal issues and challenges.
Set forth below are two key denominators to consider in connection with the development of a U.S. offshore wind project. Each of them is liable to impact the cost and scheduling of a project.
- Lengthy permitting process
- Availability of Installation vessels