09 Dec 2019

Behind the Boom in Offshore Wind Energy

Offshore wind farm at sunset
 

How do you cope with the energy needs of a rising population and shrinking land availability, when even many traditional sources like coal mines go into decline? For many states in the US, the answer is clear: invest in offshore wind.

In New York, New Jersey and New England, wind farms are an increasingly attractive option. The trouble is, where do you put them? The US has long been one of the biggest world players when it comes to wind power, but to date, it’s focused on farms onshore.

The global wind power market grew from $21.4 billion in 2006 to $94.5 billion in 2017 and is expected to be worth $100 billion by 2015. When it comes to cumulative installed capacity, the US takes a 16.4% share - second only to China. Germany and India are big investors too, and countries across the Middle East, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Central America are starting to follow suit.

Yet while the US added 7.1GW of annual capacity in 2017 alone, it lags far behind much of the world when it comes to offshore wind power.
 
Incredibly, the US only has one offshore wind farm to date: a 30-megawatt wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island, which supplies 17,000 homes. This is set to change soon, though, with a giant 800-megawatt offshore wind farm, enough to provide power to half a million households, planned in Massachusetts. 

Many others are sure to follow. The state of New York has set a target to build 2400 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, New Jersey is shooting even higher, at 3,500 megawatts, and Massachusetts has committed to buying 1,600 megawatts by 2027.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy estimates that the US could produce as much as 10,800 megawatts of electricity using offshore wind farms - and many experts believe that offshore wind could easily power the entire East Coast.

This is an amazing time for utilities companies in the US to seize on the potential of offshore wind. The appetite and interest are there, there’s a huge domestic market - and there are few established competitors in the field. You can’t ask for a better opportunity than that!