BOEM proposes 'design envelope' approach

UNITED STATES: The Trump administration is proposing to ease guidelines for designing and operating offshore wind projects.

Deepwater Wind's 30MW Block Island project remains the US' only operational offshore wind farm to date

The proposed design envelope concept, which would be more flexible, would allow for the rapid pace of technological development.

It permits developers to delay certain project-design decisions — such as turbine choice — to a more commercially advantageous time later in the development process, announced the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

"Offshore wind will play a big role" in the US's energy future, said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, when BOEM announced the proposal.

Indeed the move appears to indicate the government is committing to offshore energy development of all types.

The design-envelope approach is standard in some European countries and had been lobbied for by the US offshore wind industry.

If the guidelines are adopted, the US will be better able to benefit from Europe's years of experience.

Major European entrants into the nascent US offshore wind sector include Denmark's Ørsted (formerly Dong Energy), Norway's oil giant Statoil, Iberdrola subsidiary Avangrid Renewables, and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

Clemson University in South Carolina has also been chosen by manufacturer MHI Vestas for testing its 9.5MW offshore turbine in US waters.

The Trump administration's commitment to offshore wind had been questioned, especially given the president's fierce opposition to an offshore wind project off his luxury golf resort in northeastern Scotland, Vattenfall's European Offshore Wind Development Centre, currently under construction.