The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a report outlining supply chain needs required to reach the nation’s offshore wind goal of 30GW by 2030. 

The Demand for a Domestic Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain report provides a broad summary of the components, ports, vessels, and workforce that are likely needed to achieve this target. 

With international offshore wind supply chains already near capacity, there is an immediate need to develop a domestic network to scale up the industry. This report estimates achieving 30 GW of offshore wind capacity will require at least:

  • 2,100 wind turbines and foundations
  • 6,800 miles of cable
  • 5-6 wind turbine installation vessels
  • 10 feeder barges to transport components
  • 4 cable lay vessels
  • An average annual workforce between 12,300 and 49,000 full-time equivalents.

The report also identifies challenges facing the offshore wind industry including constrained port infrastructure, a shortage of installation vessels, a still-developing workforce, and limited existing manufacturing for critical components including yaw and pitch bearings, permanent magnets, flanges and other large cast or forged components, steel plates that are rolled into monopiles or towers, electrical systems for offshore substations and mooring chains.

Although only one major offshore wind component manufacturing facility has been operational as of early 2022, original equipment manufacturers and project developers have announced plans to build at least 11 new manufacturing facilities in the US, including those focused on wind turbine blades, foundations, towers, and cables.

The first Jones Act compliant WTIV, Charybdis, is under construction at Keppel AmFELS.

Source: GustoMSC

The first Jones Act compliant WTIV, Charybdis, is under construction at Keppel AmFELS.

“The offshore wind pipeline represents a strong demand for manufacturing and workforce capabilities in the United States,” said Matt Shields, NREL senior offshore wind analyst and principal investigator of the study. “By understanding the barriers we face, we can better work to overcome them and move toward our goal of 30GW of offshore wind by 2030 while also generating significant local economic benefits.”

The report complements the U.S. Department of Energy’s America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition. This February 2022 publication defines dozens of critical actions to build a secure, resilient, and diverse domestic energy industrial base to solidify America’s role as a global leader in clean energy manufacturing and innovation.

The Demand for a Domestic Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain is part of a larger project overseen by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC) and conducted by a partnership among NREL, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, and DNV. Additional funding and support are provided by the State of Maryland, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and DOE.

The project team will build upon this report to deliver a comprehensive offshore wind supply chain road map by the end of 2022. This second report will define scenarios in which all major offshore wind components are fabricated domestically by 2030 and will describe the subsequent impact on regionally distributed jobs, economic impacts, and cost of energy. The road map will highlight key actions that would need to be taken by different stakeholders to realize these scenarios.

The Demand for a Domestic Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain is available here.