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U.S. must act quickly to grab the offshore wind opportunity before it blows away to other countries
The offshore wind industry is poised to bring 83,000 potential jobs, billions of dollars to our economy and transform the U.S. into a country based on independent, renewable energy. We could improve both our economy and our clean energy mix. But we should act quickly, or we could lose out to other ambitious countries who are poised to not only fulfill their clean energy requirements, but to take ownership of the industry.
It is an unprecedented opportunity because all the work and investments needed to reach economies of scale have already been borne by European consumers – meaning the U.S. has almost all opportunity and no risk. According to multiple studies, the U.S. offshore wind industry has almost unlimited potential for clean energy, and with all that energy comes huge benefits Just based on current investments and policies, the International Energy Agency said that by 2030 the offshore wind market could grow by 13% annually, which means it would generate up to $70 billion of capital investment and add 20 GW of power per year. That’s more than half of the current electric generation capacity of the whole state of New York annually. This would also lead to thousands of well-paying jobs in engineering, manufacturing, construction and operations.
Annual growth by 2030 for the offshore wind market (Source: International Energy Agency)
Of power per year by 2030 (Source: International Energy Agency)
Energy companies Eversource and Ørsted are among those whose projects will trigger the creation of new jobs in the U.S. They have jointly signed a framework agreement with Nexans for the first U.S. made subsea high voltage export cables for projects off the coast of New England.
Nexans is making a $200 million investment to manufacture those cables from its Charleston, South Carolina facility. By end of 2020 Nexans projects to create 135 new jobs to support the offshore wind industry.
This investment will create not only direct economic benefits for South Carolina but potentially indirect economic benefits for Tennessee, Texas, Georgia, Ohio and Connecticut (not counting the direct and indirect economic benefits during cable installation that will flow to the states where the offshore wind projects are constructed).
South Carolina’s subsea cable industry is just one part of the comprehensive supply chain that will need to be built to support offshore wind. Each state along the eastern seaboard can use its existing industries to find a role within this ecosystem. For instance, a consortium led by Dominion announced their intent to call on Virginia’s experience in shipbuilding to build the first U.S.-made jack-up vessel to install turbines in the water; at the Port of Paulsboro in New Jersey, Ørsted plans to help develop America’s first dedicated offshore wind manufacturing facility to fabricate steel foundations for offshore turbines. And the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal in Massachusetts has been selected as the primary staging and deployment location for the Vineyard Wind project.
But the scale of the needed investments requires regulatory predictability for those investments to be attractive enough to happen.
“ It’s also important that all state and federal agencies coordinate on all apects of regulation, including environmental regulations, as well as building out the infrastructure to ensure we are all moving the industry forward together. ”
Of course, creating a new industry in the U.S. from scratch requires thousands of people across existing industries and regulatory agencies to learn, educate and adapt, and many U.S. stakeholders have certainly done their part.
However, the sector’s growth will be much more assured if all stakeholders continue to adapt and keep an open mind and all regulators ensure predictable outcomes in the permitting processes by acting swiftly and reasonably in alignment with the One Federal Decision policy and the two-year target for environmental review (Presidential Executive Order 13807).
It’s also important that all state and federal agencies coordinate on all apects of regulation, including environmental regulations, as well as building out the infrastructure to ensure we are all moving the industry forward together.
Many other countries are already moving faster and setting higher goals than the U.S. China has set an ambitious goal of installing more than 50GW of offshore wind capacity over the next 10 years; India plans to install 30GW in next 10 years; and European countries have increased their ambitions from 60 GW to 90GW by 2030. The risk is if the U.S. doesn’t proactively and quickly build itself into the next leader in offshore wind energy we could be left behind.
Nexans' long standing expertise in offshore wind