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United States

Ørsted's US win a "vindication", says WoodMac

Having struggled to succeed since it entered the US market in April 2015, the fact that Ørsted now has over 3GW of contracted wind capacity is a "vindication" of its decision to cross the Atlantic, says Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables (WMPR) senior analyst Anthony Logan.

There are a lot more purple wind turbines on this map now
There are a lot more purple wind turbines on this map now

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Ørsted, in partnership with US utility Eversource, was named the preferred bidder in the New York solitication for offshore wind capacity for its 880MW Sunrise project off Long Island. 

It took a long time for the Denmark-base developer to secure power deals in the US, having made a big play in purchasing several leases along the eastern seaboard. 

In 2018, it acquired Deepwater Wind, the US-based developer behind the country's first offshore wind project, the 30MW Block Island site.

The acquisition not only brought more project capacity, but also the expertise required to make its US venture a success. 

The partnering with utility Eversource is also turning out to be a shrewd move, giving Ørsted weight on both the development and commercial sides in addition to its own market-leading, European experience.

"Sunrise's win is something of a vindication for Ørsted after it very publicly lost the Massachusetts auction in 2017 offering a project from the same lease area, and subsequently bought successful US developer Deepwater Wind," said Logan, who covers North American wind power for WMPR. 

"Denmark's Ørsted is now the undisputable centre of the US offshore wind market with roughly 3GW of awarded projects; given the currently expected solicitation schedules of other states, no other developer could likely amass a similar portfolio until at least 2022.

"Equinor's wind may have a distant impact, as their now-guaranteed experience working in the US market will help them to navigate the California offshore sector, where the cutting-edge floating technology at which they excel will be necessary for the offshore wind capacity additions we expect as early as 2025," Logan added. 

He also said the companies were looking innovatively at the projects to overcome technological boundaries. 

"These are high-quality wind sites, evidenced by the nearly 50% capacity factors the projects are advertising.

"The decision by Equinor to use gravity-based foundations is significant, as the technology has been effectively relegated to the demonstration-scale for decades. Empire Wind would be four times larger than the only other operational offshore wind project using this type of foundation," said Logan. 

"Distance to shore will be a challenge for Sunrise, with an extremely long export cable required, but the European offshore sector has made enormous cost-reduction strides in long-distance cabling, so what would have been a project-killing geographical circumstance five years ago has clearly been mitigated. 

"Supply chain localisation announcements continue to focus on foundation fabrication, which is the most obvious choice for domestic siting despite recent talk of blade and even possible nacelle fabrication in the US," he added. 

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