Another boost to the growing US offshore wind industry came on June 23, 2022, when the Biden-Harris administration and several cabinet secretaries announced new initiatives, including a partnership with 11 eastern states described as a “first-of-its-kind forum for collaboration between federal and state officials to accelerate offshore wind progress.”
The Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership brings together Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island to support clean energy goals related to the administration’s goal for 30 GW of Offshore Wind by 2030 and many of such states’ related targets.
The partnership’s first endeavor will focus on the supply chain, as the partnership will be “endorsing a set of federal, state, and mutual commitments to expand key elements of the supply chain, including manufacturing facilities for offshore wind components, port capabilities, logistics networks needed to install projects, and workforce development to fill good-paying jobs. Working together, federal and state partners will track progress, anticipate future needs, and collaborate on a regional and national basis.”
Additionally, the Biden-Harris administration announced that the US Department of Energy and the states of New York and Maryland will fund the National Offshore Wind Supply Chain Roadmap, which will provide specific actions states can take to meet the industry’s supply chain needs. The product of collaboration among the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, and other stakeholders, the roadmap will be released later in 2022 following a July workshop and input from other groups.
To further boost the demand side of the supply chain, the administration also announced it would take steps to expedite the environmental reviews and permitting processes that are key pacing items for project development.
Significantly, the announcement also included a major boost with respect to availability of the specialized ships and vessels required to construct and service offshore wind projects: the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration will designate offshore wind vessels as “vessels of national interest.” This will enable the priority review and funding of new vessels through the Federal Ship Financing Program, which assists the domestic shipbuilding industry and supports US shipyards to modernize their facilities, build and retrofit vessels, and assist US shipowners to cost-effectively obtain new domestically produced vessels.
Ultimately, a variety of large specialized vessels will have to be built to meet the demand from offshore projects expected to be constructed between now and 2030—a need that is complicated by the Jones Act, which requires vessels used in certain aspects of “coastwise” trade to be US-built, US-flagged, US-citizen-owned, and US-citizen-operated vessels. The designation of offshore wind vessels as vessels of national interest could be a major pressure release in the congested pipeline of projects that would utilize the limited number of existing vessels.
The June 23 announcement signals a continuation of the momentum the industry has developed in the last several years, and these initiatives could help accelerate the US offshore wind industry’s growth and unlock its full potential.
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