Offshore wind: major milestones & achievements

Offshore Wind: Major Milestones Achieved

State and federal processes for developing offshore wind energy projects in the U.S. are well underway.  

In early 2011, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) unveiled a coordinated strategic plan, A National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States, which seeks to achieve the deployment of 10 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 54 GW by 2030.

Furthermore, 2013 and 2014 in particular have been marked by an increased pace of achievements. 

A key milestone came in June of 2013, when the first offshore wind turbine in the U.S.—a 65-foot, one-eighth-scale model that utilizes an innovative concrete semi-submersible foundation—was deployed by the University of Maine’s DeepCwind Consortium.

Also in 2013, DOI and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held the first two competitive lease auctions, one for two sites in an area off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts and the other for an area off the coast of Virginia.

Developer Deepwater Wind was selected as the winner for the Rhode Island and Massachusetts sites. Dominion Virginia Power won the auction for the lease area off the coast of Virginia.

In addition, the state of Maryland enacted legislation in 2013 that created an offshore renewable energy certificate (OREC) program to facilitate the development of 200 MW of offshore wind power.

There has been even more progress in 2014 with major milestones achieved in five states.

In May, DOI and BOEM announced a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) seeking developer interest in acquiring commercial wind leases in an area offshore of New York. 

In June, DOI, BOEM and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced plans to auction 742,000 acres offshore of Massachusetts for wind energy development. The proposed area is the largest in federal waters and will nearly double the area available for offshore wind energy projects in the U.S.

In July, DOI and BOEM announced plans to auction 344,000 acres offshore of New Jersey for wind energy development.

In August, DOI and BOEM announced three Wind Energy Areas offshore off North Carolina, which total approximately 307,590 acres, for potential wind energy development. These areas will now undergo an Environmental Assessment before the leasing process begins.

Finally, DOI and BOEM held an auction in August for Maryland’s offshore wind lease areas. U.S. Wind Inc., a unit of Italy’s Renexia, was the winner.