Energy transition

Tracking the Energy Transition: It’s a Breeze

Projects across the globe are exploring the power of offshore wind in an effort to reach net zero.

Offshore windfarm in the UK
Source: lucentius/Getty Images

Maryland Law Could Revise Offshore Wind Projects
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed into law House Bill 1296, which would review and potentially revise offshore wind project plans. The law, effective 1 June, allows the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to reassess projects and pricing in a revised Round 2 offshore wind project proceeding.

Two projects, Ørsted’s 846 MW Skipjack 2 project and US Wind’s 808.5 MW Momentum Wind project were selected in 2021 under Round 2. The passing of the law allows the relocation of support from Ørsted’s Skipjack project to other eligible projects. The legislation also mandates that the PSC outline a comprehensive offshore wind procurement plan through 2031. The law aims to advance the state’s goal of reaching 8.5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2031.

Seimens Seeks Wind Revitalization
Siemens Energy announced significant changes to its wind division, including job cuts and a new CEO, as it seeks to revitalize the struggling business. The moves follow improved quarterly operating profits and a raised full-year outlook, leading to an 11.5% increase in share value. Siemens Energy board member Vinod Philip, who joined the board in 2022, will take over as CEO of Siemens Gamesa, marking a shift toward a more-focused and -streamlined approach.

Despite recent challenges, the company said it plans to resume sales of revised turbine models and remains committed to both onshore and offshore wind markets. Additionally, strong demand for power grid equipment has led to an optimistic outlook for sales and profits in 2024, with second-quarter profits showing a significant increase.

Gippsland Coast Tested for Wind Farm Feasibility
Australia approved six wind farm feasibility projects off its southern coast to bolster renewable energy toward its net-zero emissions goal by 2050. Six more may follow pending consultations with Indigenous groups. These projects, totaling 25 GW capacity, including proposals by Ørsted and Iberdrola, aim to surpass current state capacity and replace coal-fired power.

The feasibility licenses will allow developers to undertake environmental assessments and geotechnical surveys in the proposed wind farm zone on the Gippsland coast. If feasibility is proven, developers can apply for a commercial license to build an offshore wind project.

Two projects backed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners won feasibility licenses, including the Star of the South project, part of Australia’s clean energy push with more than $6 billion pledged since 2022.

East Anglia Hub Stake Sold
Macquarie Asset Management, part of Macquarie Group, sold 10% of its stake in Britain’s East Anglia One offshore wind farm to NTR, a renewable energy asset manager. East Anglia One, a 714 MW wind farm covering 300 km2 in the North Sea, powers approximately 630,000 homes annually. East Anglia One, which is comprised of 102 wind turbines each producing 7 MW, is part of a proposed three farm development known as the East Anglia Hub. The hub is expected to include East Anglia One, East Anglia Two, and East Anglia Three with a total installed capacity of 3100 MW.

Macquarie originally acquired a 40% stake in 2019, later divesting 20% to The Renewables Infrastructure Group. With this new agreement, Macquarie retains a 10% stake in East Anglia One, with undisclosed financial terms.
BOEM Announces First for Gulf of Maine and Oregon
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced its first offshore wind lease auctions for the Gulf of Maine and Oregon. These auctions, scheduled for October 2024, will use floating wind technology.

The Gulf of Maine auction offers eight lease areas with a potential to generate 15 GW of renewable energy, while the Oregon auction offers two lease areas in Coos Bay and Brookings, potentially generating 2.4 GW. The auctions align with BOEM’s 5-year renewable energy leasing plan.

Because of navigational safety concerns, some areas in the Gulf of Maine have restrictions that reduce the developable space. Adjacent lease areas must coordinate their surface structure layouts to ensure a 2-nautical-mile separation.

Environmental assessments for both regions began earlier in 2024 to evaluate the potential effects of lease activities. These assessments must be completed before the auctions. BOEM advises that certain areas may be excluded from development because of sensitive habitats and safety concerns.

The auctions will use a multifactor bidding system, combining cash bids and nonmonetary factors such as workforce training, supply chain development, and community benefit agreements. Bidders can earn up to 25% in bidding credits based on these factors.

Envision Sees Growing Offshore Wind in India
Envision aims to tap into India’s growing offshore wind market with its 8 MW and 14 MW turbines, potentially expanding into development roles. Named the top Chinese wind turbine exporter by Wood Mackenzie, Envision secured a significant share of India’s wind market last year, boasting 3 GW in orders.

The company recently penned a deal to supply 300 MW of turbines to Juniper Green Energy, marking their increasing presence. The agreement involves supplying 91 turbines for a project in Gujarat, expected to generate 1 TW-h/year and come online by 2025.
Calling India a priority market, Envision said it plans to manufacture nacelles and hubs in Pune, Maharashtra, while sourcing towers and blades locally. India ranks fourth globally in wind capacity, boasting more than 44 GW.

US East Coast Projects Begin To Take Shape
Two major offshore wind farms on the US East Coast are underway, marking continued growth in the sector post-2023 challenges.

Revolution Wind, near Rhode Island and Connecticut, is the first multistate offshore wind farm in the US, set to supply power to both states. It is expected to generate 400 MW for Rhode Island and 304 MW for Connecticut, powering more than 350,000 homes. With the first steel laid, Revolution Wind is on track for operation in 2025. Supported by three New England ports, including New London and Providence, it signifies significant progress in America’s offshore wind industry.

Meanwhile, Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Wind Farm, the largest offshore farm in the US, is underway off Virginia Beach, slated to provide 2.6 GW by late 2026. Its installation, led by DEME’s vessel Orion, is expected to begin in October, considering the seasonal migration of North Atlantic right whales.

As these projects advance, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is reviewing additional projects and planning for further development, including auctions in the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of Maine.

EnBW Begins German North Sea Build
EnBW began building its 960 MW He Dreiht offshore wind farm in the German North Sea, using 64 Vestas turbines. The project, 85 km northwest of Borkum, involves 60 ships, and the floating crane Thialf is expected to install the first foundations in the seabed.

The farm aims to be operational by next year, managed by EnBW, and connected to the grid by TenneT using an offshore converter station and two high-voltage direct-current export cables, laid over 120 km underwater and 110 km on land.

EnBW said it plans to invest more than $43 billion in Germany’s energy transition by 2030, with more than $14 billion for wind and solar projects aiming for climate neutrality by 2035. A partner consortium made up of Allianz Capital Partners, AIP, and Norges Bank Investment Management owns 49.9% of the shares in He Dreiht.

Vineyard Wind Cases Upheld
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld federal approvals for the Vineyard Wind offshore wind farm in two cases: Nantucket Residents Against Turbines (ACK RATs) v. US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Melone v. Coit et al. Both cases challenged the project’s potential harm to the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

In ACK RATs, plaintiffs claimed that the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Biological Opinion (BiOp) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court’s finding include that BiOp sufficiently analyzed the environmental baseline and impacts using the best available scientific data, claims about pile-driving noise were speculative, and seasonal restrictions minimized risks to right whales; and BOEM’s reliance on the BiOp was found to comply with NEPA.

Melone challenged NMFS’s issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA), arguing it violated the Marine Mammal Protection Act by allowing nonlethal harassment of right whales. The court’s findings include that the harassment of 20 right whales was consistent with past practices and considered “small numbers” and that the IHA appropriately considered the specified activity’s impact within the project’s region.

These rulings support the federal approvals for Vineyard Wind and are favorable for future offshore wind projects in the US.