NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: The Way To A U.S. Offshore Wind Industry

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    Monday, December 10, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Way To A U.S. Offshore Wind Industry

    National Offshore Wind Research and Development Roadmap

    October 2018 (National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium)

    Background

    On June 15, 2018 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), in partnership with The Renewables Consulting Group (RCG) and The Carbon Trust (CT), to lead the formation of a nationwide research and development consortium for the offshore wind industry. The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (“the Consortium”) is a nationally focused, independent, not-for-profit organization led by key offshore wind industry stakeholders and research institutions.

    The Consortium is dedicated to managing industry-focused research and development of offshore wind to maximize economic benefits for the United States. The Consortium seeks to fulfill, in part, a long-term vision for offshore wind in the United States that is supported by current U.S. policy for an all-inclusive energy strategy. The 2015 DOE Wind Vision report modeled a viable scenario under which 86 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity is installed in the U.S. by 2050, accounting for 7% of all U.S. electricity generation annually through large-scale project deployment in five offshore regions as shown in Figure 1. This vision for offshore wind was elaborated on by Gilman et al. in the 2016 National Offshore Wind Strategy (“the Strategy”), a collaboration between the DOE and the Department of the Interior (DOI).

    To achieve this vision, the Strategy identifies technology innovations that will be needed to address the challenges in each of the five U.S. offshore regions and to lower the costs to allow offshore wind to compete in all regional electricity markets without subsidies. The necessary cost reductions can be realized in part through targeted research and development (R&D) funded under this Consortium that removes or reduces technological and supply chain barriers to deployment and lowers development risk to investors. The Consortium envisions this research could be conducted as desktop studies, design development, and computer analysis, as well as hardware development with supporting demonstration and validation activities.

    The Consortium intends to distribute the available research funds through a series of open enrollment, competitive solicitations over the next four years, which will mirror the three research pillars described in the original DOE funding opportunity announcement (DOE FOA 1767) and summarized as follows:

    Pillar #1: Offshore Wind Plant Technology Advancement

    Technology advancements that drive significant reductions to offshore wind energy levelized cost of energy (LCOE) in the United States, which can be extended to global offshore wind markets. Accelerated innovation can reduce capital costs and development risk while increasing annual energy production, targeting long-term LCOE reductions for fixed bottom and floating offshore wind systems of 40% and 60%, respectively, relative to baseline LCOE figures presented in the Strategy (2015 U.S. Dollars) (Gilman et al. 2016). R&D conducted under Pillar #1 should also address the domestic physical siting challenges in wind turbine and wind plant technology (e.g., deep water, extreme conditions, fresh water ice, and hurricanes) as well as supply chain issues that may have unique U.S. solutions relative to European experience.

    Pillar #2: Offshore Wind Power Resource and Physical Site Characterization

    Improvements in offshore wind site characterization and site characterization technology can drive significant cost reduction in U.S. offshore wind projects by increasing annual energy production and reducing wind farm development timelines, capital costs, operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, and project financing risk. R&D under Pillar #2 should address lowering the time, cost, and/or uncertainty of resource assessment and physical site characterization.

    Pillar #3: Installation, Operations and Maintenance, and Supply Chain

    Installation costs, especially for methods that depend on high-capacity lift vessels and high levels of labor at sea can drive up the cost of floating technology capital expenditures significantly. In addition, the modeled O&M costs for an offshore wind plant in the U.S. range from $100/kW/year to $150/kW/year (2015 U.S. dollars), which represents up to 30% of the total LCOE for a fixed bottom offshore wind plant. Finally, the immaturity of the U.S. supply chain may contribute to significant project cost and additional development risk. R&D under Pillar #3 should address technology solutions that will improve installation and O&M methodologies, reduce labor at sea, encourage domestic supply chain development, and subsequently lower cost for offshore wind projects in U.S. waters. While Pillar #3 topics (Section 4) address some specific supply chain R&D areas, supply chain issues are central to the core objectives of the Consortium and consequently are cross cutting in other areas of this roadmap.

    This roadmap elaborates on the broad guidance given for these pillars by the FOA to help focus the proposal responses for the first round of competitive solicitations. The solicitations will indicate specific technical topics of interest. It is intended that successful proposals for the first solicitation will be awarded at the end of the first quarter, 2019.

    After the first round of competitive solicitations, this roadmap will be regularly revised to incorporate up-to-date stakeholder feedback and adapt to evolving Consortium guidelines. Roadmap revisions are expected to occur periodically (nominally every six months) to incorporate new research priorities and objectives and delete old objectives that have been achieved, while adhering to the Consortium’s rules of governance.

    This roadmap incorporates input approved by the offshore project developers on the Consortium’s Board of Directors who represent the intended end-users of research activities under the Consortium’s principles of operation. Input for this Roadmap was solicited by questionnaire and by interviews with board members. In addition, the roadmap relies on expertise from the Consortium’s internal technical team comprised of offshore wind expert staff from NYSERDA, DOE, RCG, the CT, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), as well as the Consortium’s various advisory groups.

    Through the input received and guided by the parameters of the DOE FOA 1767 solicitation, the greatest technical challenges to U.S. offshore wind will be addressed through R&D projects funded by the Consortium.

    Please note that all solicitations are expected to adhere to the following general principles:

     Proposers should address issues essential for cost reduction, deployment, and industry expansion specific to offshore regions of the U.S. Proposers of research topics already being addressed globally must explain why further research is necessary.

     Proposal topics will generally adhere to the three research pillars. Additionally, solicitations and project work supported by federal funding must adhere to DOE FOA 1767 guidelines and objectives. In some cases, this roadmap includes important research challenges that may be outside the scope of priorities indicated in DOE FOA 1767. These topics may not be eligible to receive federal funding but may be addressed by the Consortium in the future.

     Proposals should provide benefits to multiple end users. R&D projects that benefit multiple end users are expected to have a greater impact toward achieving the Consortium’s industry-wide cost reduction targets compared to R&D projects focused on a developer’s specific commercial offshore wind project.

    Although the consortium may modify the research objectives in future versions of the roadmap, it is expected the roadmap will continue to maintain an industry-focused, prioritized offshore wind R&D agenda that enables early U.S. offshore wind project development, LCOE reduction, and geographic industry expansion beyond the currently designated Wind Energy Areas…

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