Four Key Considerations for the Development of U.S. Offshore Wind Projects
Today, the U.S. has one offshore wind project in commercial operation – the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island – but there are more than a dozen major offshore wind projects in various stages of development across the U.S. These projects have the potential to provide thousands of jobs in the U.S. and a significant amount of clean, reliable energy to many of the country’s biggest cities, given the proximity that the offshore wind installations would have to coastal population centers.
The U.S. has long been a leader in onshore wind technology, and now, by extension, there is an emerging offshore wind industry. Offshore winds are considered by many industry observers to be abundant, strong, and more consistent in force than onshore winds. The “cost of energy” for offshore wind projects has also continued to decrease steadily, which has increased the competitiveness of offshore wind when compared to other energy sources.
The offshore oil and gas industry has played a key role in the early development of U.S. offshore wind projects. Design engineers, equipment suppliers, fabricators, and vessel operators who traditionally service the offshore oil and gas industry were involved in developing the Block Island Wind Farm and are also involved in the new projects under development. The collective experience with U.S. offshore oil and gas projects readily translates to offshore wind projects, which present many of the same operational, commercial, and legal issues and challenges.
This article includes four key factors to consider in connection with the development of a U.S. offshore wind project, each of which can impact the cost and scheduling of a project.
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This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.