Posted on September 21, 2023
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) released An Action Plan for Offshore Wind Transmission Development in the U.S. Atlantic Region, a set of actions that are meant to catalyze offshore wind energy, strengthen the domestic supply chain, and create union jobs.
The Action Plan developed by DOE’s Grid Deployment and Wind Energy Technologies Offices and DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) outlines immediate actions needed to connect the first generation of Atlantic offshore wind projects onto the electric grid, and longer-term efforts to support needed transmission over the next several decades. Coordinated planning can help speed up timelines and lower project costs, the departments said, while strengthening grid reliability and resilience.
DOE also announced the launch of the Tribal Nation Technical Assistance Program for Offshore Wind Transmission offering education and training resources to support engagement in offshore wind planning and created in direct response to tribal input. Together, these activities are intended to advance equitable and sustainable offshore wind energy development, domestic manufacturing, and grid integration, as part of broader efforts across the Biden Administration to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind in the United States by 2030, unlocking a pathway to 110 GW or more by 2050.
Since the President took office, companies have announced 19 offshore wind shipbuilding projects as well as investments of nearly $3.5 billion across 12 manufacturing facilities and 13 ports to strengthen the American offshore wind supply chain, representing thousands of new jobs. BOEM and federal partners are engaged in an all-of-government approach to collaborating on issues like ocean co-use and efficient permitting to build an offshore wind industry that benefits communities and co-exists with other ocean users with minimal impacts, including monitoring and mitigation measures to reduce the potential for impacts to protected species. The Biden Administration has approved four commercial-scale, offshore wind energy projects and remains on track to complete reviews of at least 16 offshore wind project plans by 2025, representing more than 27 GW of clean energy.
An Action Plan for Offshore Wind Transmission Development in the U.S. Atlantic Region
Partially funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, An Action Plan for Offshore Wind Transmission Development in the U.S. Atlantic Region, aims to detail how wind resources could efficiently be captured off the Atlantic Coast of the United States and delivered to communities as clean power. It outlines immediate actions needed to connect the first generation of Atlantic offshore wind projects to the electric grid, as well as longer-term efforts to increase transmission over the next several decades. Over the mid- to long-term, increased intra-regional coordination, shared transmission lines, and an offshore network of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) interlinks can more efficiently bring this energy onshore, the departments said.
The Plan’s recommendations for Federal, state, and local governments, industry, and stakeholders include:
- Before 2025: Establish collaborative bodies that span the Atlantic Coast region; clarify some of the building blocks of transmission planning, including updating reliability standards and identifying where offshore transmission may interconnect with the onshore grid; and address costs through voluntary cost assignments and tax credits.
- From 2025 to 2030: Simultaneously convene and coordinate with states to plan for an offshore transmission network; with industry to standardize requirements for HVDC technology; and with federal agencies, tribal nations, state agencies, and stakeholders to identify and prioritize transmission paths on the outer continental shelf.
- From 2030 to 2040: Establish a national HVDC testing and certification center to ensure compatibility when interconnecting multiple HVDC substations to form an offshore grid network.
DOE and multiple Atlantic states have begun work on the first of these recommendations, which is the formation of an Offshore Wind Transmission State Collaborative to develop a shared vision on policy and approach to coordination for offshore transmission development.
The Action Plan was informed by the Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Study, which will soon be released by DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, as well as a series of convening workshops with subject matter experts and decision makers, including tribal nations, state governments, and regional transmission operators held from April 2022 to March 2023.
Tribal Nation Technical Assistance Program for Offshore Wind Transmission
The Tribal Nation Technical Assistance Program for Offshore Wind Transmission supports the engagement of Federally Recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes and Villages in activities related to the planning and development of U.S. offshore wind transmission. This technical assistance program was developed in direct response to tribal input and offers capacity building through educational resources, training, and expert matching with technical experts and researchers at DOE’s national labs. To support tribal representation at key offshore wind transmission forums, the program will also provide funding to mitigate the financial burden of participation. Funding for this program is partially provided by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.