Last week’s Agenda predicted that this would be a big year for US offshore wind – and 2022 didn’t wait long before proving the point.
Announcement of the first offshore wind leasing round of the Biden era confirmed acreage for a bumper 7GW of potential capacity in waters off New York and New Jersey, in what was described as an “inflection point” for the sector.
The East Coast was not the only American shoreline on the offshore wind news-stream this week, as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management advanced the prospects for development in the Gulf of Mexico with the start of a formal environmental assessment on a vast swathe of federal waters stretching from Louisiana to the Texas-Mexican border.
Over on the West Coast, meanwhile, California governor Gavin Newsom announced $45m for offshore wind facilities in the state’s latest budget as it gears up for major floating deployment over the next decade.
Headline-grabbing though it is, offshore wind is of course just one piece of the American energy transition power jigsaw. The biggest piece is set to be solar, as confirmed by Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that PV will make up almost half of new generating capacity this year, amid a tailing-off of onshore wind.
Moving all this new US clean power to where it’s needed is a further part of the puzzle, and one addressed this week when the Department of Energy launched its Building a Better Grid initiative to “catalyse” nationwide development of new and upgraded high-capacity electric transmission lines.
While national markets such as the US often grab the limelight when it comes to advancing the global clean energy agenda, the sector is increasingly relying on an emerging clutch of ‘renewable supermajors’ to advance the cause of wind and solar around the world.
One of the biggest beasts in the green jungle is Iberdrola, the Spanish utility giant that aims to hit almost 100GW by the end of the decade and whose global reach was brought into focus by Recharge’s coverage this week.
Iberdrola confirmed itself as an early pacesetter US offshore wind when its Avangrid unit completed an asset swap with former joint venture partner CIP that leaves the Spanish group at the head of the pack in terms of pipeline.
The Spanish group is also determinedly pushing into new markets, with Asia firmly in its sights over recent years – now including the Philippines after Iberdrola this week signed an option agreement to enter 3.5GW of offshore wind projects.
And while it has long been a wind power pioneer, Iberdrola has in recent years enthusiastically embraced solar after abandoning previous scepticism over PV. That trend continued when the Bilbao-headquartered group swooped for an 800MW UK solar portfolio that makes it one of the biggest players in PV there.
It is widely accepted that the energy transition is going nowhere fast without a plethora of new options to store wind and solar.
Hydrostor, an innovator in compressed-air storage technology, received a $250m investment boost this week from global finance giant Goldman Sachs, confirming the momentum behind the long-duration storage market identified by Recharge in a recent analysis article.
The Canadian company's CEO told Recharge after the deal that the new funding would allow it to explore new opportunities – including the potential to store large quantities of offshore wind energy, where he claimed the company’s technology can be a “perfect fit”.