Industry welcomes US offshore wind transmission action plan

The US offshore wind industry has welcomed the release of a federal transmission action plan aiming to connect the first generation of offshore wind energy to the grid and boost transmission in the long term.

US Department of Energy building in Washington DC (pic credit: traveler1116 via Getty Images)

The Action Plan for Offshore Wind Transmission Development in the US Atlantic Region, announced last month during Climate Week 2023, was developed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) grid deployment office.

The plan outlines immediate actions to connect the first generation of Atlantic offshore wind projects into the electric grid, alongside longer-term efforts to support the transmission needed over the next decades.

Increased intra-regional coordination, shared transmission lines and an offshore network of high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) interlinks can more efficiently bring offshore wind energy onshore, the federal government said.

“Coordinated planning can help speed up timelines and lower project costs, while strengthening grid reliability and resilience,” it stressed.

In the short term, by 2025, the plan calls for the establishment of collaborative bodies that span the Atlantic coast and for an assessment of costs through voluntary cost assignments and tax credits.

It also urges action on the “building blocks of transmission planning”, including updating reliability standards and identifying where offshore transmission may interconnect with the onshore grid.

From 2025 to 2030, the plan wants stakeholders to convene and coordinate with states to sketch out an offshore transmission network, and with industry to standardise requirements for HVDC technology.

Collaboration between federal agencies, Tribal Nations, state agencies and all stakeholders is required to identify and prioritise transmission paths on the outer continental shelf.

In the longer term, from 2030 to 2040, the plan calls for the establishment of a national HVDC testing and certification centre to ensure compatibility when interconnecting multiple HVDC substations to form an offshore grid network.

Liz Burdock, founder and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, welcomed the action plan and called on the federal government to begin work to bring states and stakeholders together.

“Rebuilding America’s transmission system is critical to ensuring the full deployment of offshore wind on an accelerated timeline,” she said. “The network has consistently called for upgrades to happen in a coordinated and planned manner to maximise benefits,” she added.

The DoE and several Atlantic states have begun work on the first of these recommendations, which is to set up an offshore wind transmission state collaborative to develop a shared vision on policy and approach.

The DoE also announced the launch of a Tribal Nation-specific programme offering education and training resources to support engagement in offshore wind planning.

“Together, these activities will advance equitable and sustainable offshore wind energy development, domestic manufacturing and grid integration,” it said.