A day of discussion and debate over one of the key drivers of the energy transition this week came to the heart of the US capital as Recharge staged its first Global Offshore Wind Summit in Washington, DC.
The high-level event – held in the Ronald Reagan Building just minutes from the White House – began with a ringing endorsement of the opportunities for American offshore wind from one of the US Department of Energy’s most senior officials, principal deputy under-secretary for infrastructure Kathleen Hogan, who also admitted that “historic roadblocks” to growth still need clearing away.
The flagship of US climate and energy legislation – the Inflation Reduction Act passed earlier this year – was described as “one of those rare instances where the hyperbole is all correct” by Greg Wetstone, CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, in a special one-to-one interview with Recharge Editor in Chief Darius Snieckus at the Summit.
A series of panels moderated by Recharge began with some straight-talking from Siemens Gamesa offshore CEO Marc Becker, who warned that failure in some quarters to accept the “new reality” of higher costs in the sector risks undermining the massive growth that governments are demanding from wind at sea.
The Summit also saw a lively debate over the future of floating wind power that included a call by sector pioneer Alla Weinstein to bring turbine manufacturing to the US west coast as part of a Pacific Rim strategy, while sector big hitters said industrialisation is the next big challenge.
Recharge’s news coverage across the week of put many of the issues highlighted at the Global Offshore Wind Summit into sharp focus.
Warnings by Siemens Gamesa’s Becker over an altered reality for the industry, for example, resonated as Shell and its partners pulled out of the Groix and Belle-Ile floating wind pilot off France, citing escalating costs and other constraints on viability.
Numerous panelists and speakers mentioned the importance of strong and consistent policy signals to offshore wind – and this week India set out draft plans for a first 4GW tender that left some wondering if the nation’s timetable was too ambitious given the numerous risk factors to be considered.
Opening new regions for offshore wind and its growing profile as a green power source for oil & gas production were both widely discussed in Washington, and dovetailed with news that GE and Egyptian partners were considering gigascale deployments in the Gulf of Suez.
DoE official Hogan’s assertion that US offshore wind is just getting started was, meanwhile, underlined on the very day she spoke at the Summit by the setting of draft development areas off the Central Atlantic that could support 20GW of new plant, including debut zones for east coast floating wind.
The celebration of US offshore wind’s early achievements and future potential continued at the second Ventus Awards gala in Washington, DC, organised by sector advocacy body the Business Network for Offshore Wind (BNOW) with Recharge as a partner.
The full list of winners reflects what co-host and Recharge Editor-in-Chief Snieckus described as “the men and woman leading the charge with insight, invention and intelligence to create the industry awaiting on the fast-approaching horizon".