SITING OFFSHORE ASSETS
Permitting an offshore wind project is complex. Depending on the location, permitting efforts may involve multiple federal agencies and multiple state governments. In addition, environmental considerations above water, on the water surface and below the water level must be considered.
Routes used by the fishing industry and migratory animals limit where turbines and the offshore platform can be placed. Specialized equipment, such as remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), must examine the seabed and take core samples to determine the types of foundations to be used and how transmission cables are to be placed (trenched vs. covered in rock). ROVs are common in the U.S. and obtaining access is merely a line item cost. These ROVs also help route the underwater cable and identify other obstacles. In the United Kingdom, for example, unexploded ordnance found within an area of construction must be removed prior to construction. In the U.S., obstacles that must be avoided include shipwreck remains, telecommunications cables, pipelines and sensitive flora or fauna.
To help streamline siting efforts, the U.S. Department of Interior, through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), has identified offshore wind zones in federal waters along the outer continental shelf and has facilitated a competitive bidding process for developers to obtain leases to those areas.
If each of the first 12 commercial leases executed by BOEM under its renewable energy program for offshore wind development in the U.S. is built to its greatest potential, such developments would support approximately 15 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity.