HOUSTON—The U.S. has big plans for offshore wind growth in the coming years. Though falling behind China and the U.K. in the number of offshore wind turbines in 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is setting up plans to boost its offshore wind presence in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico by 2030.

Jocelyn Braun-Saracino, program manager for market acceleration and deployment at the DOE office of energy efficiency and renewable energy, shared the DOE’s strategies in assisting with local offshore wind development as the keynote speaker at the OTC session “Shaping the Future: Offshore Wind Growth in the United States.”

After reaching a record breaking 17 GW worth of commissioned offshore wind projects internationally in 2021, more groundbreaking advancements are on the horizon. Through 2027, 177,462 MW of offshore wind projects have been announced internationally.

“Our forthcoming market report indicates that in 2021, there was a record year for offshore wind deployment internationally when more than 17 gigs of new projects commissioned, and that pushed total installed capacity for offshore wind internationally to past 50 Ts,” Braun-Saracino said.

“The total project pipeline – that includes both installed capacity as well as includes projects that are in various parts of the planning phases rooted more than 360 GTS internationally and around the world over last year – there's also been really huge strides in terms of the development of floating offshore wind,” she added.

In the U.S., the DOE’s federal deployment goal for 2030 is to deploy 30 GW worth of offshore wind projects is a stepping stone in a larger plan to reach 110 GW of offshore wind projects by 2050. The projects are also anticipated to create 77,000 new jobs – 44,000 in offshore wind and 33,000 in the surrounding communities.

As it stands, requirements for achieving the 2030 goal include the deployment of 2,100 wind turbines, 6,800 miles of cable, five to six wind turbine installation vessels, 10 transport vessels, 11 service operation vessels and 58 crew transfer vessels.

“I think these goals are powerful,” Braun-Saracino said. “They help foster the sort of investment environment that we need for companies to make supply chain investments. And I think, importantly, they also provide a groundwork for planning. They help us determine what do we need to be planning for, what are the issues that we need to be planning around.”

To reach the goals set by 2030 and 2050, the DOE has put measures in place to assist offshore wind developers in acquiring the resources and funding for their projects. The organization is helping developers lower operational costs through efforts to increase turbine size and advance array optimization.

“We see some opportunity space with respect to moving from a situation where we're developing floating platforms on a one-off basis to really designing for serial manufacturing for floating offshore wind platforms and doing so in a way that really capitalizes around on us manufacturing capabilities,” Braun-Saracino said.

The DOE anticipates the need to develop solutions in transmission infrastructure and, to satisfy those needs, is developing “a wide range of activities” to help. Said activities, according to Braun-Saracino, include issuing information requests for offshore wind transmission development and using the results to make decisions about what needs to be done moving forward.

“At a very high level, as we think about deploying offshore wind in the ocean environment where we don't currently have transmission infrastructure or challenges with respect to limitations, in terms of existing points of interconnection, there are challenges related to the fact that, generally speaking, the grid in our country is designed to go from road to coast rather than coast to road. And so there's the need for onshore upgrades,” she said.