The time is right for offshore wind in the Northeast of the US, and the federal government should hold another lease auction for development areas at sea, Holger Grubel, EnBW’s head of portfolio development, offshore wind generation, told Recharge.

The German utility had bid in the last such auction in late 2018 for zones off Massachusetts, but narrowly lost to its competitors at Shell, Equinor and Vineyard Wind, EnBW acknowledged.

“That was the only auction since the end of 2018. We would be ready to move immediately. The time is right for having the next lease auction. It creates jobs, it creates an element of combating global climate change. It creates electricity for the states, they are needing that,” Grubel said.

“We have built up a tremendous team on our side so that we are ready to move. … It is really about the federal administration preparing for another lease auction, which we are desperately waiting for.”

Grubel spoke to Recharge ahead of the US Offshore Wind 2020 conference, which this year takes place virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

His view echoed that of the head of the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Alicia Barton, who at the conference said the state of New York will hold its next offshore wind procurement round this year. Barton urged the Bureau of Ocean energy Management (BOEM), which regulates federal waters, to make substantial new lease areas available, particularly off New York and New Jersey.

Bill White, EnBW’s North American chief executive, said his company regarding the need for further federal lease auctions was “in the same bucket with a number of other developers looking to enter this market.”

The “latest projection” by the offshore wind industry for an auction date now is in “the second quarter of next year”, White added.

“We are moving rather aggressively to prepare for not only winning that auction, but also developing competitive bids into the states solicitations in the state of New York as well as the state of New Jersey,” he said.

While the federal government has been delaying another lease auction, states along the East Coast combined have already some 29GW of offshore wind procurement targets, White said.

“We actually need the energy, most of our power system, our fuel infrastructure is quite dated, quite old, and is retiring. States need new sources of energy. People are attracted to the thousands of jobs that will be created when this industry finally launches. Not just the work force, but hopefully soon the manufactures as this industry launches.”

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