A new industry report says 2021 was “a transformational year that kickstarted the U..S. offshore wind industry, sparking supply chain investment and transforming it into a national industry, bringing investments so far to nearly $7 billion.

The non-profit Business Network for Offshore Wind’s annual U.S. Offshore Wind Market Report & Insights report released Monday includes state-by-state power procurements with wind developers; growth in state and federal targets for future power capacity; project timelines; and the latest supplier contracts and market developments.

“Data analysis clearly shows an uptick in offshore wind supply chain development in 2021, demonstrated by a 61 percent growth in the Network’s Supply Chain Connect registry and billions of dollars in new investments,” according to an executive summary of the report to network members.

That 61 percent represents a growth rate four times what the network documented in its 2020 report and now includes companies in 44 states, the report says. Some $2.2 billion in newer investment includes facilities to build key components: cables, foundations, turbine blades.

The Bureau of Offshore Energy Management will offer six new wind lease areas for auction in the New York Bight Feb. 23. It will be the biggest offshore wind lease offering yet, and “is likely to result in an influx of new market participants” that could attract more U.S. businesses into joining the supply chain, the network report says.

The first commercial scale projects in federal waters, the Vineyard Wind and South Fork Wind developments off southern New England, are to begin construction in 2022 and 2023. How those fare “means that the U.S. market will begin to gain significant data points and practical understanding of commercial-scale offshore wind construction and installation in federal waters,” the report says.

Those projects will be a test of how European-based wind developers and their U.S. partners can work with U.S. maritime laws and regulations – and compete for material and capable installation vessels amid a burgeoning worldwide industry.

“This effort will lead to some important insights about logistics coordination and project execution while complying with U.S. protocols and regulations,” the report notes. “It will also provide the first indicators as to whether the capacity of the domestic and global supply chain will be able to manage the volume.”

“Critical industry benchmarks were achievable because of the Biden administration’s whole-of-government approach that saw collaboration between the Departments of Interior, Energy, Commerce, Transportation, and others,” said Liz Burdock, CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind. “However, the U.S. must not let up its pace because global competition in offshore wind is fierce and intensifying. The U.S. market needs more businesses that can expand and adapt their current capabilities – the good news is, 2021 proved there’s a lot of opportunity for growth within offshore wind.”

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