The Next Big Thing: Offshore Wind Is Poised for Liftoff in the U.S. but Obstacles Remain—as Do Opportunities
In early July Dominion Energy broke ground on the second U.S. offshore wind farm, called the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project and located 27 miles off the coast from the resort city of Virginia Beach. It was a purely symbolic moment and a literal “groundbreaking” since it took place on land and nowhere near where the turbines will be. Its purpose was to install a half-mile pipeline to the final stretch of cables connecting the turbines to a company substation close to nearby Camp Pendleton.
But it was significant nonetheless as it’s been three years since the first U.S. offshore wind farm - off Block Island in Rhode Island - came online in 2016, three long years that had consumers, developers and investors alike wondering, “Will this ever happen? What’s the holdup with offshore wind?”
But obstacles remain, including the controversial Jones Act, seen by some as inhibiting the required investment. Not so, says Joan Bondareff, chair of the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority and Of Counsel at Blank Rome: “I like to look at the Jones Act as an incentive for shipyards, not an impediment. It’s been around for 100 years and it’s a law we’re going to have to live with.”
Bondareff is right, and U.S. shipyards and suppliers are making the necessary adjustments. In some cases they are partnering with European companies to design and build equipment like installation jack-up vessels, crew transfer vessels and windfarm service boats.
“The Next Big Thing: Offshore Wind Is Poised for Liftoff in the U.S. but Obstacles Remain—as Do Opportunities,” was published on page 26 of the July–August 2019 issue of The Maritime Executive.