US set to lease offshore wind in Gulf of Mexico; Portugal to auction 1 GW floating wind

The wind power news you need to know.

Offshore wind passes environmental test in Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has found no significant environmental impact from offshore wind leasing in the Gulf of Mexico, paving the way for the leasing of offshore areas in Texas and Louisiana.

The BOEM's environmental assessment applies to a 30 million-acre call area and in February the bureau identified three zones inside the call area for the first lease sales. BOEM identified two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres and the other comprising 96,786 acres, and a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The next step for BOEM will be to publish a Final Sale Notice that will include more precise details about the areas that will be offered as well as lease stipulations.

Since the environmental assessment applies to a much larger area, further zones for development may be designated.

Advantages of developing in the Gulf of Mexico include smaller average wave heights than Atlantic projects and close proximity to existing oil and gas infrastructure. However, the offshore wind farms will be exposed to hurricane winds and would need special foundations due to the softer soils in the area.

The Biden administration aims to install 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and the proposed Gulf of Mexico lease sale follows three offshore wind lease auctions in 2022 ― two in the Northeast and one in California.

US wind installations drop 50% as builders push back projects

U.S. wind installations slumped by 50% in the first quarter of 2023 to 1.4 GW as renewable energy developers faced a number of hurdles last year, including permitting and grid connection delays, volatile costs, delivery issues and unresolved details in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, the American Clean Power (ACP) association said in a statement.

Total clean energy installations fell by 36% to 4.1 GW as solar developers faced similar challenges along with trade policy uncertainty.

Developers installed 71 new solar projects totaling 2.2 GW in the first quarter, along with seven onshore wind farms and 17 new battery storage projects with a total capacity of 461 MW/1,075 MWh.

Developers predict solar, wind and battery installations will grow on the back of tax incentives in the Biden administration's inflation act.

Last month, Wood Mackenzie estimated U.S. wind developers ordered 1.8 GW in new turbines in the first three months of the year, up from 0.8 GW in Q1 2022.

The clean energy pipeline grew by 11% from a year ago to 139 GW including 49.0 GW under construction and 89.9 GW in advanced development, ACP said. The battery storage pipeline increased by 33% year-over-year, while solar saw a 16% increase and land-based wind dropped 14%.

              US clean energy projects in advanced development 

                                                        (Click image to enlarge)

Source: American Clean Power, May 2023

The U.S. Treasury Department last month issued guidelines for the domestic content requirements needed to qualify for tax incentives in the inflation act, which is expected to boost domestic manufacturing of clean energy technology.

Portugal plans to auction 1 GW of floating wind by year end

Portugal plans to launch its first offshore wind auction before the end of the year with the goal of building more than 1 GW of floating capacity, Reuters reported on May 30.

The deep waters off the Portuguese coast require floating wind technology and the government has proposed five areas with high wind potential off the country's northern edge.

“This first auction will surely have a capacity of over 1 GW and then we will hold more auctions in the coming years," Energy Secretary Ana Fontoura said.

Portugal aims to secure 10 GW of installed capacity and a total investment of between 30 billion and 40 billion euros ($33 billion to $44 billion) by 2030.

Portugal already hosts a 25 MW pilot floating wind farm called WindFloat Atlantic, which is owned by Ocean Winds, a joint venture between Portugal's main utility EDP and French company Engie.

The Portuguese government aims to supply 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2026, up from around 60% at present.

Germany signs deal to import wind power from Danish island

Germany and Denmark have signed an agreement to share 3 GW of new wind power generation on the Danish island of Bornholm.

"The project creates the basis for future green electricity imports to Germany and makes our electricity supply cheaper, safer, and more independent of fossil fuels," German economy minister Robert Habeck said in a statement issued on June 1.

Under the deal, 2 GW will be transmitted to Germany and 1.2 GW will go to mainland Denmark, the statement said.

The transmission system operators of Germany and Denmark - 50Hertz and Energinet, respectively - will split the costs of building the transmission infrastructure.

The agreement is part of efforts by nine European countries - France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, and Britain - to build 120 GW of offshore wind capacity in northern seas by 2030 and work on carbon capture and renewable hydrogen projects in the region.

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