HOUSTON—A record $4.4 billion offshore wind lease sale in New York, a floating wind first for the Pacific and historic legislation packed with incentives made 2022 an eventful year for the wind sector.
Even more action is anticipated, including in the nascent floating wind sector, according to experts gathered in Houston this week for the Floating Wind Solutions conference.
“It’s no surprise we continue to see huge opportunities in the U.S. to buildout an offshore and floating offshore wind industry here, and we’re going to continue to seek new opportunities,” said Jonah Margulis, vice president of U.S. operations for Mainstream Renewable Power, which formed in 2022 following its combination with Aker Offshore Wind.
The industry was not immune, however, to global pressures that included supply chain constraints and rising interest rates, which Margulis said will prove to be challenges in 2023.
“But I really see these more as speedbumps rather than existential threats, given the multi-decade, multi-generational view in the industry,” he said.
Offshore wind development is expected to help reduce emissions as the world aims to use cleaner energy resources to slow global warming. The Biden administration is aiming to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 additional GW of floating offshore wind by 2035.
Here are the offshore wind developments to watch in 2023, according to Margulis.
With three offshore lease auctions over, four more are on the horizon for the U.S. during the next 12 to 18 months: Gulf of Mexico (GoM), Central Atlantic, Oregon and the Gulf of Maine. Each auction, Margulis said, will drive the industry forward in unique ways.
Calling the GoM an “industrial play” with deep expertise in offshore energy and supply chain development, he said the region could become a driver of green hydrogen. The Central Atlantic auction, which might require floating technology in areas where depths reach 2,500 m, will “continue to build out the East Coast supply chain and manufacturing, contributing to lower costs and increased job creation.”
Development offshore Oregon could benefit from work being carried out to advance floating wind offshore California, where five leases were awarded in December 2022. Margulis called the Gulf of Maine another “purely floating opportunity,” viewing the region as “the next wave of offshore wind development post 2030.”
“It’s an attractive area with attractive wind speeds, located in a region with strong renewable energy ambitions,” he said, noting Mainstream was among the handful of companies responding to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s request for interest.
Continued rising of states’ offshore ambitions
California, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New Jersey are among the states that have announced offshore wind targets. California, for example, has set a target of 5 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 25 GW of floating wind by 2045.
“Combined, the U.S. states have now set a goal targeting 77 gigawatts… but I think you’re going to continue to see that rise,” Margulis said.
States that haven’t announced targets are making other moves. Maine, he pointed out, has proposed developing an offshore wind procurement scope to help ensure a robust offshore wind workforce and supply chain.
Following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, guidance from the federal government is expected as sectors look to utilize incentives made available by the law.
Look for other rule updates and news on the Department of Energy’s Wind Shot funding as well, Margulis said, as well as port funding.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration has over $616 million in funding available to issue in this year, specifically, the Port Infrastructure Development Program,” he continued.
Considered a challenge for floating wind and other types of energy, transmission—particularly around interregional grid planning—will be an area to watch this year, according to Margulis.
“State and federal support is really not enough, if the grid can’t handle what the offshore wind is delivering and we’ve got big plans,” he said. “America’s power grids are aging… We need to start being proactive about our planning needs and transmission needs if we were to make the net-zero future a reality.”
He noted that a recent report by the Bill Gates-funded Breakthrough Energy stated most power grids in the U.S. were built between 1950 and 1970.
“An estimated 70% of lines will become obsolete in the coming decades, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers,” Breakthrough said on its website. “This means the downing of old power lines, more frequent power outages and a slower and inefficient response to severe weather. And this challenge will only grow as demand for clean energy increases.”
The selection of regional hydrogen hubs is expected this year as the U.S. turns to the clean energy source to help decarbonize electric grids. The Department of Energy seeks hubs that are not only diverse geographically but also diverse in hydrogen end uses, including feedstock.
“This is where offshore wind comes into play,” Margulis said. “It’s a huge opportunity for offshore wind developers. It provides additional offtake for the energy produced by offshore wind.”
NGL Energy Partners Sells Off Marine Fleet to Pay Debt
2023-03-06 - NGL Energy Partners, a midstream MLP, said it was selling its towboats and tank barges for about $111 million.
Enbridge Buying Gulf Coast Gas Storage Facility for $335 Million
2023-03-01 - Canada’s Enbridge is adding around 35 Bcf of Gulf Coast natural gas storage to its portfolio with the purchase of the Tres Palacios facility in Texas.
Norway's Equinor Nears Deal to Buy Suncor's UK Oilfields
2023-03-01 - Equinor is anticipated to close a deal that includes Suncor Energy's 40% stake in the offshore Rosebank oil and gas project in the North Sea.
WhiteHawk Picks Up Haynesville Mineral, Royalty Interests in $105 Million Deal
2023-01-18 - The Haynesville royalties are in the core of the basin, WhiteHawk said, adding that its position will cover 375,000 gross unit acres in northwestern Louisiana.
Energy Transfer to Acquire Permian’s Lotus Midstream for $1.45 Billion
2023-03-27 - Energy Transfer’s acquisition of Lotus Midstream’s infrastructure includes the Centurion Pipeline and adds about 3,000 miles of crude gathering and transportation pipelines that extend from New Mexico across the Permian Basin of West Texas to Cushing, Oklahoma.