(Article from ReNews)
The US offshore wind industry is making “measured progress” as it celebrates construction of its first project, Deepwater Wind’s 30MW Block Island wind farm, American Wind Energy Association chief executive Tom Kiernan said at the AWEA Offshore Windpower 2015 conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
“It is spectacular having Deepwater with steel in the water,” said Kiernan (pictured). The pilot project off Rhode Island “will help fuel the next phase in our growth”.
Some 13 offshore wind projects totaling nearly 6GW are in more advanced stages of development, while 12 projects with more than 3.3GW planned have announced a commercial operation date by 2020, said the Energy Department.
The federal government has set targets of 22GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 86GW by 2050.
Momentum has slowed however, with projects delayed by high costs and difficulty securing offtake agreements.
Progress will hinge on creation of stable tax policies and building demand for offshore wind energy, said Kiernan. AWEA is working to get the investment and production tax credits extended this year.
The offshore wind sector continues to have “robust” federal support and key agencies such as the DoE and the Interior Department are working closely together to develop the industry, said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management director Abigail Ross Harper.
“The push at the administration is as strong if not stronger than ever to make offshore wind a reality,” said Hopper.
President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions is expected to help drive demand.
At the state level, however, more collaboration is needed to develop a regional supply chain, especially in the industry’s early days, said Keystone Engineering general manager offshore wind Ben Foley.
“We really need to get rid of this myopic, provincial view where every state has their own fabrication facility in order to get these first projects off the ground,” said Foley.
US developers will benefit by leveraging the European learning curve, where 10GW have been installed, said Alstom Wind VP and general manager Andy Geissbuehler. “It’s absolutely critical to draw on that experience and apply it here in the US,” said Geissbuehler.
Kiernan called on the industry to trumpet the sector’s benefits to help build demand. In addition to job creation and environmental benefits offshore wind offers fuel diversity, price suppression for consumers, it produces power at peak demand times, and it reduces transmission congestion costs.
“We need to continue our perseverance and messaging the benefits of the offshore wind industry to federal and state policy makers,” said Kiernan.