Report: Offshore Wind Needs Domestic Supply Chain to Reach Goals

A report from The National Renewable Energy Laboratory along with other partners found that a domestic supply chain would make hitting the Biden administration’s 30-gigawatts-by-2030 target more likely.

With two companies, Ørsted and US Wind, holding leases to erect and install offshore wind energy developments off the coast of Ocean City, company executives and state and local government officials anticipate Maryland becoming a regional hub for turbine construction and services.

Maryland Matters has released coverage of an offshore wind report that argues for an American supply chain for the industry including foundations, cables, manufacturing facilities, and more is needed. Right now, many parts for wind turbines are imported from Europe, creating a reliance on global manufacturing.

This is just one bottleneck the report sees looming ahead. Additionally, the report highlights the difficulties in bringing the electricity generated ashore. It is anticipated this legislative session that bills will be introduced to modernize the grid. Senator Brian Feldman goes into more detail on this matter in the coverage highlighted below.

Important highlights from the Maryland Matters coverage include:

The report’s authors envision a supply chain buildout scenario that includes 34 new major U.S. wind turbine component manufacturing facilities, eight East Coast “marshaling ports,” four to six dedicated turbine installation vessels (there is currently just one being built now for Virginia’s Dominion Energy) another four to six dedicated heavy lift vessels and four to six feeder barges and a workforce about 45,000 strong. The price tag? About $22.4 billion. And it would take between six and nine years to develop, the report says, but would be worth the investment.

The authors encourage the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which leases federal waters for offshore wind, to consistently open new lease areas to encourage a steady stream of development and they note that states and utilities setting new offshore wind procurement targets will help provide “predictability and stability” for the fledgling industry.

The report also makes a range of recommendations on turning high-level cooperative frameworks  — like Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina’s memorandum of understanding to make the Southeast and mid-Atlantic an offshore wind hub and the Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership — into more concrete supply chain moves.

In Maryland, Sen. Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery), chair of the Committee on Education, Energy and the Environment, said Friday that he expects legislation to be introduced in the current legislative session to help bolster electricity transmission and modernize the grid. He also said an anticipated windfall in federal funding should help the state accomplish those goals.

“It’s a national issue,” Feldman said. “We’ve got a lot of energy generation in the Midwest that currently, in the United States, can’t get to the East Coast. Offshore wind – how do you get the energy from offshore? These are important issues that are necessary for us to address in a really smart way.”

Read the full Maryland Matters coverage.
Access the full report.