Joint venture targets ‘vast potential’ of U.S. floating offshore wind market

A joint venture between global energy giant TotalEnergies and Simply Blue Group, a developer of floating offshore wind projects, aims to capitalize on the “vast potential” of floating offshore wind projects in the U.S.

Together, TotalEnergies and Simply Blue Group have more than 9 gigawatts of offshore wind in development around the world.

“We are convinced of the large potential of floating offshore wind to provide U.S. coasts with renewable electricity, and are committed to contribute our extensive expertise in offshore projects to make it happen,” said Stéphane Michel, President, Gas, Renewables & Power at TotalEnergies.

The Biden administration set a goal of reaching 30GW offshore wind capacity by 2030 – a milestone authors from the Clean Energy Technology service say the White House is “almost certain” to miss, due to supply chain challenges and the maturity of the U.S. market.

IHS Markit expects $100 billion to be invested in the offshore wind industry over the next nine years, resulting in the U.S. market share of global capacity increasing from (nearly) 0% to 9%.

“Complex and lengthy permitting processes combined with a lack of manufacturing facilities, specialized U.S.-flagged installation and service vessels, dedicated ports plus poor power transmission infrastructure continue to be the key bottlenecks hampering more rapid growth of the U.S. offshore wind capacity,” IHS Markit analysts wrote.

Analysts noted additional challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and high costs for offshore wind projects compared to other carbon-free generation sources.

“Current unsubsidized costs for bottom-fixed and floating offshore wind projects are estimated at $125 per MWh and $225 per MWh respectively, well above wholesale electricity prices and costs for both onshore wind and solar PV.”

The report does, however, signal that permitting speeds and project costs will improve in the coming years. The Dept. of Energy’s planned $3 billion in public financing for offshore projects and an extension to the 30% investment tax credit should also encourage growth for the industry.

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