Bidding for offshore wind turbines in the United States exceeds 1.5 billion dollars

Posted 24 February, 2022

Bidding for the construction of wind turbines off the coasts of New York and New Jersey, a sector on which Joe Biden is betting to fight against climate change had already reached a record on Wednesday evening, at more than 1.5 billion dollars. dollars.

Six areas representing nearly 2,000 square kilometers (488,000 acres) in a triangular area called New York Bight are proposed, making it the largest area ever proposed at one time in the United States.

Wind turbines installed in these areas should be able to generate seven gigawatts, enough to power nearly two million homes.

They must thus feed the ambitions of the American president, who is counting in part on the rise of this type of energy to decarbonize the electricity produced in the United States.

Launched at 48.8 million dollars, the auction had reached 1.53 billion dollars after 21 rounds on Wednesday evening.

They will resume Thursday and can potentially extend until Friday, according to the agency overseeing the process, the Office of Ocean Energy Management (Boem).

– Symbolic stage –

Nearly 25 companies have been authorized to participate, with European specialists such as Avangrid Renewables, Equinor ASA, or EDF Renewables Development, as well as American groups such as Invenergy and Arevia Power.

The operation represents a symbolic step, "because it is the first auction organized by the federal government since 2018", notes Lesley Jantarasami, a specialist in the energy sector at the think tank Bipartisan policy center.

The Biden government pledged shortly after its inauguration to create the conditions to produce 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, she recalls.

"For a long time, everyone has been saying that this form of energy is about to take off, that there are a lot of investors, that European companies (more experienced than American companies on these projects, editor's note) are ready to participate", explains the specialist.

"But we hadn't seen the federal government take concrete steps to make that a reality. People want to see the projects moving forward."

Only two small sites are currently in operation in the country, producing 42 megawatts.

The administration last year gave the green light to the construction of two larger projects, Vineyard Wind off Massachusetts (800 MW) and South Fork Wind off Rhode Island and New York (130 MW). ).

It has also pledged to review at least 16 projects and hold seven auctions by 2025, including areas off the coasts of North and South Carolina and California.

– Legal risks –

At the last auction held in 2018, three lots representing 390,000 acres off the coast of Massachusetts were awarded for a total of $405 million after 32 rounds.

While the major Build Back Better investment plan proposed by the American president is still paralyzed in Congress, his government could rely on the results of the current auction "to strengthen its good faith in green energy", advances Timothy Fox, of the independent research firm ClearView Energy Partners.

These auctions are only the beginning of a long process, the companies that have won the lots must now obtain a permit and then build the wind turbines.

"The risk of legal obstacles remains present", underlines Timothy Fox.

The authorities have opened a public inquiry before determining the areas to be auctioned and have already taken into account the considerations of many people reluctant to these projects such as certain environmental organizations or fishermen. But new procedures are possible.

For Lesley Jantarasami, however, these projects should not face the opposition that has led to the abandonment of offshore wind projects in the past.

Not only is the federal administration committed to developing this form of energy, but the governors are also determined to see these programs, sources of jobs, and a means of achieving their climate objectives, succeed, she says.

The states of New York and New Jersey, for example, have set themselves the goal of reaching 9 gigawatts and 7.5 gigawatts respectively by 2035.

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