Offshore wind developers have bid a record $4.37 billion for development rights as the USA cranks up capacity for renewables generation.
Major US and European corporations snapped up six lease areas off the coast of New York and New Jersey in a zone called the New York Bight, according to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
US President Joe Biden sees the expansion of the industry as a way to tackle climate change and create jobs. The auction is of a series contributing to the U.S. aim to install some 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030.
“This week’s offshore wind sale makes one thing clear: The enthusiasm for the clean energy economy is undeniable and it’s here to stay,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. The projects would create thousands of jobs and bolster coastal industry.
Once developed, these projects will deliver 5.6 to 7 gigawatts of clean reliable energy – enough to power more than 2 million homes, the American Clean Power Association said.
The top bidder was Bight Wind Holdings LLC, a joint venture between Germany’s largest power producer RWE and Britain’s National Grid, which won a single 125,964-acre parcel for $1.1 billion, according to Reuters.
Other winning bidders included Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight LLC and Mid Atlantic Offshore Wind LCC, both of which are fifty-fifty joint ventures between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America.
OW Ocean Winds East LLC, a joint venture between Portugal’s EDP Renewables and France’s ENGIE, also won, along with Attentive Energy LLC and Invenergy Wind Offshore LLC.
The large presence of European companies comes as U.S. is playing catch up with Europe, the world’s leader in offshore wind development. Pairings notably included historic petroleum producers like Shell, committing to transition projects.
Putting wind installations at sea allows them access to steadier, stronger winds, generating greater power.
The US has a significant pipeline of projects. The 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project and the 130-megawatt South Fork Wind project are both in development.
BOEM also expects to review at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial offshore wind energy facilities by 2025, which would represent more than 22 GW of clean energy.
In addition, the US has identified up to seven potential lease sales by 2025, including the New York Bight and areas off the coasts of the Carolinas and California later this year. They will be followed by lease sales for the Central Atlantic, the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore Oregon.