Power plant developers and operators have announced plans to install more than 6 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity at sites primarily along the East Coast of the United States over the next seven years, according to our latest Preliminary monthly inventory of electric generators report. These additions include projects off the coasts of New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, as well as on Lake Erie near Cleveland, Ohio.
In 2016, the 30 megawatt (MW) Block Island Wind Farm began operating off the coast of Rhode Island as the first offshore wind project in the United States. Since then, an additional project, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project, began commercial operations in 2021. The developers plan to expand this project, which currently has a generating capacity of 12 MW, to a total of 1,277 MW of 2027.
This expansion and several other projects would increase U.S. offshore wind capacity to more than 6 GW. For comparison, in March 2022 the United States had over 135 GW of net onshore wind capacity in the summer, and developers plan to add an additional 21 GW of onshore wind capacity through 2026. We publish data on currently operational and planned capacity additions in our Preliminary monthly inventory of electric generators and Annual inventory of electric generators reports.
Offshore wind tends to operate at a higher capacity factor than onshore wind due to stronger and less variable wind speeds. Offshore wind can supply electricity to population centers in coastal areas, where the demand for electricity is high. However, offshore wind power generation is generally more expensive than onshore power sources.
Siting offshore wind turbines on the outer continental shelf requires a lease from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) of the US Department of the Interior. BOEM has held lease sales at several East Coast sites since 2013. Acquiring a lease is a necessary step in the development of an offshore wind project, but the lease does not guarantee the viability of the project, the additional construction or transmission interconnection.
So far this year, BOEM has announced two offshore wind lease sales. In February, BOEM sold six leases in the New York Bight area, totaling 488,000 acres. In May, BOEM sold two leases in the Carolina Long Bay area of North Carolina, totaling 110,091 acres. BOEM has proposed plans to auction rental sites off the coast of California later this year.
Main contributor: Mr. Tyson Brown