For more than a decade, offshore wind has been viewed as the next big thing in the U.S. energy mix. In Europe, billions of euros have been invested in 82 offshore wind farms — 10.4 GW of capacity, according to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) — roughly equivalent to the power production of 10 large nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, the United States market stalled completely, mired in regulatory uncertainties, litigation, and lack of financing.
However, there are several reasons to believe the sector has reached an inflection point in 2015. Macro energy supply, economic considerations, and climate-related concerns support development of U.S. offshore wind projects (now more than ever), particularly in the New England and mid-Atlantic regions. Traditional coal-burning power plants are rapidly being retired, and they’re not being replaced. Offshore wind is one of the few resources offering the necessary scale to fill the coming void. Wind energy is also becoming far less costly, given technology improvements, and is increasingly supported by federal and state policies addressing climate change.
Can the U.S. offshore wind market finally turn the corner? Recent developments suggest that it could.