Chart: Offshore wind is poised for massive global expansion

Developer-announced commercial wind projects are booming in offshore waters around the globe, with China and the U.K. in the lead.

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The offshore wind sector is booming on a global scale — and the U.S. is finally getting into the game. 

What’s driving this boom? Much like solar PV, offshore wind technologies have experienced a massive decline in costs and widespread uptake in adoption. Due to maturing technology and increased competition in utility-scale installation, wind has been on a learning curve that shows no sign of slowing down. 

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Up until now, the U.S. has been a laggard in offshore wind, trailing a number of European countries as well as China. Currently, the U.S. only has one small utility-scale installation in operation, the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island, which provides 30 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. 

The Biden administration wants to add three zeros to that number. It’s aiming to have 30,000 megawatts — 30 gigawatts — of installed offshore capacity by 2030. Earlier this month, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced plans to hold up to seven offshore lease sales to auction off the rights to develop projects in waters off the East Coast and West Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. And a variety of U.S. offshore projects are already in planning and development phases, including one, the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project, that has received all of its needed permits and approvals. 

That won’t be enough to catch up with the U.K., though, which has led the world in offshore wind in recent years — or with China, which is projected to be the world leader in years to come. 

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial and research associate at Canary Media.