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America’s Troubled Offshore Wind Push May Yet Take Off

Turbines at a project off Rhode Island.

Posted on May 1, 2024

President Joe Biden’s lofty 2030 goal is unlikely to be met, but the sector is finally poised for a rebound.

Recent headlines on US offshore wind have been grim: big developments delayed or scrapped; billions of dollars in losses; jumbled supply chains; and the potential return of a professed wind-hater to the White House.

But at an industry conference in New Orleans last week, the mood was defiantly optimistic. Speaker after speaker talked up the sector’s bright future in front of an audience of more than a thousand.

Now is the time for swift action on wind projects, said Doreen Harris, head of the New York State energy development authority.

That’s because government efforts the past few years are finally bearing fruit. Financial incentives and better coordination between states and federal agencies point to a promising pipeline of activity, including plans to rebid projects previously seen as unviable.

Two utility-scale developments recently got up and running: Vineyard Wind near Massachusetts and South Fork Wind off the coast of New York began sending electricity ashore a few months ago.

A lift boat off the beach at the site of the South Fork Wind project.

“The successes we’ve had, the steel in the water, the switches flipped — those are our wins,” US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said at the forum.

The folks packing the conference center aren’t naive. It’s hard to start an industry from scratch, and the spike in costs for materials and financing has probably pushed President Joe Biden’s 2030 goal of 30 gigawatts out of reach.

Yet progress is underway, and BloombergNEF predicts that target will be met in 2033 following a massive ramp-up in capacity — from almost zero last year.

After everything that’s gone wrong for US offshore wind in the past 18 months — with umpteen false starts — it may be difficult to believe a surge in development is just around the corner. But there’s promise ahead.


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