Offshore, Wind Power

US Offshore Wind Can Realize 25 GW through Synergies with Oil & Gas Sector

Energy experts highlighted the explosive growth potential of the U.S. offshore wind industry and the expertise its supply chain will leverage from the U.S. offshore oil and gas (O&G) sector during a panel discussion hosted this week at the Offshore Technology Conference by Renewable Energy World and the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW).

The U.S. offshore wind industry now has 8 GW of firm commitments in six Northeast states, a project pipeline of almost 25 GW, and potential to generate tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. Industry experts will gather in Houston in September at the Offshore Wind Executive Summit to discuss the critical synergies between the U.S. offshore wind and O&G industries.

At this week’s panel discussion, experts said that a new U.S. heavy industry is taking shape to install, connect and service offshore wind turbines supported by a supply chain that partners OSW developer initiative with expertise from U.S. oil & gas firms, onshore wind manufacturers and European OSW leaders.

“A vast market for U.S. offshore wind power is coming into clear focus in the Atlantic states,” said Stephanie McClellan, Director at the University of Delaware’s SIOW. “In the past two years, the U.S. industry has made dramatic advances in policy commitments and investor confidence. We no longer wonder if this industry will make it to America’s shores. U.S. offshore wind has arrived and is accelerating with utility-scale commitments that already exceed 8 GW of market visibility and a project pipeline that totals nearly 25 GW. There’s good reason to be excited — and U.S. offshore energy and offshore wind industry leaders are working to ensure that U.S. companies bring their full expertise to this effort.” 

Roy Francis, Vice President, Business Development at Gulf Island Fabrication (GIF), Texas-based offshore energy construction firm, told the panel about GIF’s strategic relationship with OSW developer Bay State Wind and German steel pipe maker EEW to create a renewable energy supply chain and more jobs in Massachusetts. “The European offshore wind market is 27 years old,” said Francis. “We are taking the best from the mature European industry and pairing it with American know-how.”

According to Walter Cruikshank, acting director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the industry is moving at a “phenomenal pace,” and BOEM is actively working with leaseholders to move projects forward.

“There is great industry-wide confidence in the market,” he told the panel. “There are strong policy commitments from the states, particularly in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, and a strong commitment from this Administration.”

There is plenty of room for partnership between the offshore wind and O&G sectors, according to Randall Luthi, president, National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA).

“Offshore energy service companies can build anything out in the ocean,” Luthi said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an oil rig or a wind farm; we can, should and will continue to work together.”

Chris van Beek, President of Deepwater Wind, estimated that 70 percent of the capital expenditures of an offshore wind farm can be delivered by the U.S. supply chain.