US supply chain road map for offshore wind energyS. Himmelstein | April 01, 2022
Achieving the U.S. offshore wind energy target of 30 GW by 2030 will require ramping up the domestic supply chain by providing existing suppliers with the ability to produce thousands of components while creating tens of thousands of jobs. The U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has mapped the challenges and solutions to developing the nationally focused offshore wind energy supply chain required to meet this target.
The emerging offshore wind industry in the U.S. must install at least 2,100 turbines and foundations as well as 6,800 miles of submarine cable to meet federal offshore wind goals. This effort will require deployment of 58 crew transfer vessels, five or six wind turbine installation vessels, 11 service operation vessels, four cable lay vessels, two scour protection vessels, 10 transport vessels and an average annual workforce of 12,300 to 49,000.
Only one major offshore wind component manufacturing facility was operational as of early 2022, but original equipment manufacturers and project developers have announced plans to build at least 11 new manufacturing facilities in the U.S., including those focused on wind turbine blades, foundations, towers and cables. In addition to the need for major component manufacturing, some critical-path subcomponents pose a challenge to domestic manufacturing because of their size or specialty. These include 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.
The agency will next identify realistic pathways to achieve this supply chain and avoid potential bottlenecks associated with reliance on European suppliers.