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Report Identifies More Than $100 Billion in Offshore Wind Supply Chain Opportunities Over Next Decade

  • Special Initiative on Offshore Wind estimates $109 billion in business revenue opportunities by 2030 due to offshore wind development
  • Forecast is up substantially from 2019 expectations of $70 billion
  • Turbines and towers, foundations, cables, and substations account for bulk of supply chain opportunities

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

The supply chain for offshore wind development in the United States presents an opportunity for $109 billion in private sector revenues over the next decade, according to a report from the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind.

The estimate is a substantial increase from the group’s 2019 forecast, which estimated a 10-year revenue potential of $70 billion. That forecast was based only on capital expenditures associated with the offshore wind sector, while the new forecast includes both development and operational expenditures.

U.S. offshore wind capacity is currently very limited, encompassing only a 30 MW wind farm off Block Island in Rhode Island and a 12 MW facility off Virginia. However, several projects are currently in development off the East Coast, with numerous states making commitments to procure electricity generated by offshore wind. Some supply chain agreements have already been struck for these installations, including contracts signed by partners Eversource and Orsted for the supply of foundations and substations to its Sunrise Wind project off Montauk Point in Long Island.

The White House has set a goal of reaching 30 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind forecast is based on the spending associated with the anticipated development of 32.35 GW of offshore wind projects by that year.

Seven states have committed to procuring this amount of energy by 2030, with more than 8 GW already contracted at the time the report was published. These include Connecticut, which has directed its Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to contract a nameplate capacity of 2 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. Connecticut has already contracted for 1.1 GW of energy produced by offshore wind facilities, and is expected to contract an additional 1 GW in 2023.

The group anticipates that at least 2,057 wind turbines and towers will be required at a cost of $43.9 billion, along with at least 53 offshore and onshore substations costing $10.3 billion. Other key expenditures include $17 billion for turbine and substation foundations as well as $12.9 billion for more than 8,000 kilometers of export and array cables.

The report says the estimates are conservative, as they don’t account for investments in areas such as ships to support the offshore wind industry, local fabrication facilities, and port and grid infrastructure upgrades.

While only $1.1 billion in offshore wind supply chain expenditures are expected in 2021, the figure is expected to more than double to $2.6 billion in 2022. A peak investment of $20.3 billion is forecasted for the year 2026.

The forecast comes with the caveat that the American offshore wind supply chain may initially be more reliant on suppliers in European countries, which has a much more established and robust offshore wind industry than the United States.

“The offshore wind supply chain remains largely global, with a growing number of U.S. offshore energy and onshore wind suppliers preparing to enter the industry,” the report states. “Many of the supply chain actors, both international and domestic, are grappling with the questions of whether, where, and when to set up manufacturing hubs in the U.S.”

The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind is an independent project at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment that supports the advancement of offshore wind.


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