30 gigawatts of US offshore wind power by 2030
The Intertubes are practically on fire with the announcement that the Biden administration is investing $ 3 billion for a new offshore wind initiative that will plant 30 gigawatts of new wind turbines along the US coast by 2030. In a karmic twist, these dollars will flow through the Department of Energy’s Office of Loan Programs, which some members of Congress have been trying to kill since the Solyndra debacle since the early days of the Obama administration. Well, Solyndra may be gone, but her ghost lives.
Preparing the ground for 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030
In fact, some members of Congress were all for the Office of Loan Programs when it was launched under the aegis of the Department of Energy under the Bush administration, as part of the Energy Policy Act 2005. As a source independent program, the office has also covered nuclear and fossil energy projects. However, after the Obama administration launched in 2009 with a climate action goal, they mysteriously soured the idea as a whole.
The LPO was (and still is) on a mission to provide financing to companies with new energy-related technologies that have the potential to meet critical needs, but are unable to attract sufficient interest from the private sector. . Among the first to receive funding, there was solar manufacturer Solyndra, which got off to a promising start in 2009 with a $ 535 million LPO loan, except it went bankrupt in 2011.
Sounds bad enough, and it was, but Solyndra was just a cog in the LPO wheel, which was designed to take a measure of risk into account. The LPO portfolio was in the dark by 2014 and in 2016, it was outperforming banks. That didn’t stop clean energy enemies from leveraging Solyndra’s bankruptcy to raise endless howls of outrage, which still resonate today.
President Trump allegedly tried to kill the loan program, but he couldn’t, given how it was established by an act of Congress.
Oddly enough, Trump also allowed the Department of Energy to form the new U.S. Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, which was launched in 2018 with the aim of: push the country’s wind industry at top speed. This may seem wrong to someone whose great love of birds led him to to cast a shadow over the wind industry, but this is consistent with the whole orientation of the Department of Energy in the Trump administration.
So now the loan programs office is still alive with $ 3 billion in loans for offshore wind projects, and it has a new best friend in the offshore wind research and development consortium, which is injecting $ 8 million. additional costs for new offshore wind R&D. projects.
the National offshore wind R&D consortium packs a big punch. It is led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and counts Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts and Maine among its member states with an A-list of offshore wind industry players.
$ 8 million for new offshore wind R&D projects
Much ink has already been spilled on Solyndra and the LPO, so let’s move on to this new round of $ 8 million funding from the offshore wind consortium to support the 30 gigawatt goal.
The figure of $ 8 million may sound like peanuts, and it is, compared to $ 3 billion. However, a little goes a long way in the world of offshore wind R&D. These dollars will support the $ 3 billion loan program by developing new technologies for foundations and moorings, strengthening the national supply chain, innovating in electrical systems and providing solutions to reduce impacts on the environment. wildlife and radar systems.
Here is the summary of the offshore wind consortium:
- 4 projects to develop innovative support structures (including foundations and moorings) for very large fixed-bottom and floating-bottom offshore wind turbines in order to achieve economies of scale
- 3 projects that provide innovative solutions to supply chain and installation challenges, including spiral welded towers, self-positioning blade installation tool, and unmanned aerial devices for inspections
- 5 projects to support innovations in network interconnection and transport
- 3 technology development projects to mitigate use conflicts, including wildlife monitoring and radar interference.
Among the winners there are a number of new offshore wind companies in the CleanTechnica Radar, including Esteyco, DEME Offshore US LLC, Deep Research Technology, PCCI, Inc., Keystone Tower Systems, ULC Robotics, Thayer Mahan, Offshore Wind Consultants, Worely and CODAR Ocean Systems, LLC.
A familiar face is GE, which is not surprising given the popularity of the company. gigantic new wind turbine for offshore racks. The monster originally weighed 12 megawatts when it debuted in 2019, and last year GE gave it a few more tweaks to pump it up to 13 megawatts.
The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is also in the mix, tasked with something called “An Offshore Wind Energy Development Strategy to Maximize the Benefits of the Electricity System in the South.” Oregon and Northern California ”, which probably has something to do with the ongoing PNNL research that involves the cost of offshore wind by deploying the existing grid of onshore transmission lines.
The winners are rounded out by Tufts University, which will also take the angle of transmission, and Cornell University, which will focus on resolving conflicts between flora and fauna in designated offshore wind power areas.
In total, the new round of funding of $ 8 million brings the Consortium’s portfolio to 40 R&D projects, for a total funding of $ 28 million.
Don’t forget the critical materials!
The Department of Energy also devised another angle under the Trump administration which sets the goal of success of 30 gigawatts.
On December 1, just weeks after Trump lost the 2020 election, the LPO gave new directions to loan seekers aimed at boosting national supply of critical materials used in wind turbines, batteries and other clean technologies.
The very day Trump left office (January 20, 2021 for those of you who score at home), the energy department also ensured the follow-up with a new round of funding of $ 50 million for 15 projects aimed at “field validation and demonstration, as well as next-generation extraction, separation and processing technologies for critical materials”.
The Department of Energy’s announcement was dripping with irony about not letting the door knock on you along the way, which is pretty funny but also a little sad considering the former president. love-hate relationship with wind turbines. “Critical materials are used in many products important to the US economy and energy technologies, such as the rare earth elements used to make high-strength magnets for offshore wind turbine generators,” noted the agency.
“The Department of Energy is leading the way in addressing the supply risks of critical materials,” added outgoing Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Assistant Secretary Daniel R Simmons., For good measure.
On the rise and on the rise for offshore wind
The focus on critical materials becomes sharper when you consider the surge in demand triggered by the new 30 gigawatt target, which is actually just a first step towards a deep decarbonization goal exceeding 100 gigawatts. by 2050.
Under the leadership of new Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm, the Department of Energy has picked up where the Trump administration left off. On March 18, the agency announced a new round of funding of $ 30 million for essential materials focus on lithium, cobalt and nickel, among others.
“Currently, the United States is grappling with chronic shortages in the domestic supply of these critical materials, forcing the country to rely on imported materials,” the agency explained, adding that “about 35 items of rare earths, such as platinum, serve as key components in several clean and high-tech energy applications – magnets in wind turbines, batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, phosphors in energy-efficient lighting and displays, and catalysts for reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “
“Right now, the United States depends on imports from countries like China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for these essential materials. Imports represent 100% of our supply of 14 of the 35 items and over 50% of 17 others. This exposes the production of clean energy technologies to a greater risk of disruption due to trade disputes, natural disasters or armed conflicts, ”the Department of Energy stressed.
They left cargo ships stuck in the Suez Canal off the list of supply chain risks, but that matters. American offshore the wind industry has drifted in the doldrums as the other nations run ahead, but now that all hands are on the deck, it looks like the navigation is clear and the sunny skies are in the forecast.
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Image (cropped): Offshore wind turbines courtesy of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (credit: Shannon Colson, PNNL).