WSP USA is part of a team that is bringing the first utility-scale offshore wind farm to the U.S. When fully operational, Vineyard Wind will generate 800 megawatts (MW) of electricity — enough to produce a dependable supply of energy to power more than 450,000 homes.
Globally, offshore wind has seen rapid growth in the past decade, and as the technology has matured, a specialized supply chain has developed and costs have plummeted. In the U.S., the industry has been slow to develop due to numerous challenges, including a lengthy planning and permitting process, limited offtake opportunities, and supply chain constraints, as well as the high cost for early projects. However, that situation is starting to change.
“While Europe has thousands of offshore wind turbines installed and operating, the experience here in the U.S. is limited to the Block Island Wind Farm and its five turbines,” said Michael Drunsic, WSP business development manager for renewable energy. “The first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S. will face challenges, since there is no established domestic supply chain and associated infrastructure is not suitably optimized for offshore wind. But we are now seeing the emergence of a significant pipeline of offshore wind projects that will create a strong incentive to develop a domestic supply chain and infrastructure and drive down construction costs.”
A driving factor is the huge demand for renewable resources.
“Consumers and state policy makers are increasingly seeing the value of renewable energy as the need to address climate change becomes imperative and the cost of renewable energy continues to drop,” Drunsic added. “New York and New Jersey both have targets of achieving 50 percent renewable power by 2030, while California recently enhanced an already aggressive renewable goal to get to 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2045. As states look at the options for meeting these requirements, they are increasingly looking at offshore wind as a viable option.”