Floating Offshore Wind Project Proposed in WA

MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2022

Last week, Trident Winds Inc. announced it submitted a request to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management to develop and construct the first floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Washington state. Dubbed the Olympic Wind project, the Seattle-based offshore wind developer submitted an Unsolicited Lease Request for a commercial lease, which includes permitting, development, construction, operation and maintenance.

According to the release, the project site is planned to sit 43 miles off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula and deliver approximately 2,000 megawatts of carbon-free energy to approximately 800,000 homes. Additionally, Trident reports that the project is expected to generate jobs and economic benefits for local communities while helping Washington meet its ambitious climate goals and clean energy targets.

“The Olympic Wind project is poised to be the first floating, commercial scale offshore wind installation off the coast of Washington State,” said Trident Winds CEO, Alla Weinstein. “The project will harness our unlimited, carbon-free offshore wind resources for the benefit of all Washingtonians.

“We believe strongly that all voices matter and look forward to working with stakeholders to form strong partnerships that maximize benefits for surrounding communities.”

BOEM will now conduct a review to confirm that Trident’s ULR meets the agency’s legal, technical and financial qualifications to hold a lease on the Outer Continental Shelf for commercial offshore wind energy development. Following this confirmation, the bureau will issue a public notice of request for interest.

According to reports, if approved, the wind farm could be in operation as early as 2030. Olympic Wind would be situated in water depths of 500-1,300 meters (1,640-4,265 feet), with wind speeds in the area reportedly running around eight meters per second.

However, working this location can create some constraints, due to the location near Department of Defense operation zones, historical fishery grounds and shipping lanes. Additionally, the state has ambitious energy targets to meet net zero emissions by 2050, with the passing of the Climate Commitment Act beginning in 2023.

“We need to work within a somewhat limited area between the Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary, DoD warning areas, vibrant fishing areas and shipping activity – so taking this all into consideration to find where the maritime conflicts might be is the challenge. Space is limited in determining what you can generate,” said Weinstein.

“Still, we think 3GW is not unreasonable, thought we are aiming for 2GW to start. The characterization work [included marine spatial planning] has been done. It is speculative to talk time-lines but the lease request says 2030 as a commercial operation [start-up] date.”

Offshore Wind in the US

In May, the Biden Administration announced the approval for construction and operation of Vineyard Wind 1, the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm, in Massachusetts. The DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the plans to construct 62 wind turbines about 35 miles from the state’s mainland.

U.S. officials broke ground for the construction of Vineyard Wind 1 in November, held in Covell’s Beach, Barnstable, with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Representative Bill Keating.

Work will begin with the building of two transmission cables to connect the offshore wind facility to the mainland. According to the DOI release, the Vineyard Wind 1 project will generate 800 megawatts of electricity annually and power over 400,000 homes.

Vineyard Wind 1 will contribute to the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and Massachusetts’ goal of 5.6 gigawatts within the same timeline. It will also reportedly be built by union labor and create hundreds of jobs.

That same month, the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium launched a comprehensive U.S. offshore wind supply chain project in November. The purpose of the Supply Chain Roadmap is to present the collective benefits of a domestic supply chain and facilitate the acceleration of the offshore wind industry in the nation.

The project is a partnership between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, the State of Maryland, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Building a domestic offshore wind supply chain is a key step in achieving the cost reductions, economic development, and sustainable industry needed to meet DOE’s goal of 30 GW by 2030,” said Matt Shields, Senior Offshore Wind Analyst at NREL, at the time. “This project will help the United States leverage existing manufacturing and workforce capabilities to grow a network of domestic suppliers.”

The project is reported to run in line with President Joe Biden’s—alongside the U.S. Department of Interior, Department of Energy and Department of Commerce—plans to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in America by 2030, while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use.

According to the President’s Fact Sheet, if this target is met it will “trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment in projects on both U.S. coasts, create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs, with more than 44,000 workers employed in offshore wind by 2030 and nearly 33,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity.”

The creation of these offshore wind farms would also generate enough power for more than 10 million homes for a year and reduce CO2 emissions by 78 million metric tons. Not only would the domestic offshore wind industry to meet the 2030 target by utilizing this area—New York has a target of 9,000 MW of offshore wind and New Jersey has set a 7,500-MW goal, both by 2035—there would be massive supply chain benefits as well.

According to The White House, in meeting this 2030 target, the supply chain would benefit through new port upgrade investments totaling more than $500 million; one to two new U.S. factories for each major windfarm component including wind turbine nacelles, blades, towers, foundations, and subsea cables; additional cumulative demand of more than 7 million tons of steel—equivalent to four years of output for a typical U.S. steel mill; and the construction of four to six specialized turbine installation vessels in U.S. shipyards, each representing an investment between $250 and $500 million.

To help cover these changes, the U.S. Department of Transportation has reported it will be making available $230 million for port and intermodal infrastructure related projects such as storage areas, laydown areas and docking of wind energy vessels to load and move items to offshore wind farms. The DOE is also making $3 billion available in debt capital, through loan programs, to support offshore wind projects, including transmission systems to link to land-based power grids.

New York’s first offshore wind farm, South Fork Wind, received the final approval needed for the project to move forward with the start of construction in January. The project’s Construction and Operations Plan (COP) was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, following the DOI’s Record of Decision in November and a BOEM environmental review.

According to the release, the wind farm is expected to kickstart New York’s offshore wind industry and power approximately 70,000 homes with clean, offshore wind energy by 2023.


Tagged categories: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM); Carbon footprint; Emissions; Energy efficiency; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; NA; Net Zero Energy ; North America; Program/Project Management; Trident Winds; Upcoming projects; Wind Farm; Wind Towers

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