An auction for the right to generate wind power off the coast of New York and New Jersey yielded record-breaking bids totalling US$4.37 billion—more than 10 times the amount of the previous offshore wind lease.
There are a lot of large numbers thrown around in energy reporting, writes veteran climate journalist Dan Gearino for Inside Climate News, so it’s easy to lose track of the differences between totals that are big and ones that are staggeringly huge, he says. And to be perfectly clear, “the total of these winning bids is staggeringly huge.”
The New York Bight leasing auction administered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) took place over three days ending February 25. It was the first of seven BOEM auctions planned by President Joe Biden, reports Utility Dive.
“This week’s offshore wind sale makes one thing clear: the enthusiasm for the clean energy economy is undeniable and it’s here to stay,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in a White House media release. “The investments we are seeing today will play an important role in delivering on the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis and create thousands of good-paying, union jobs across the nation.”
The winning bids secured 488,000 acres (1,975 square kilometres) across six different leases for Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight, Attentive Energy, Bight Wind Holding, Invenergy Offshore Wind, Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind, and OW Ocean Winds East. Many of the companies are joint ventures and Invenergy is the only American-owned winner—the rest are either based in Europe or partially European-owned, says Gearino.
John Rogers, an energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, took the notable European interest as a good sign, indicating that industry veterans see strong opportunities in the U.S. market.
“Europe’s been doing offshore wind for 30 years,” he told Gearino. “It’s a global market, so I think bringing not just their capital but their expertise to our shores makes a lot of sense.” Rogers predicted that U.S. companies will start to grow into this space more as the market develops.
Also noticeable in two of the winning bids is engagement from European fossil companies—Atlantic Shores is a joint venture between Shell and French-based EDF Renewables, and Attentive Energy is a subsidiary of TotalÉnergies. The two oil giants already have stakes in the offshore wind market, pointing to what Gearino says is a larger trend of European oil companies moving quickly to invest in clean energy as they respond to climate goals in their home countries.
Rogers said European fossils’ longevity will be increasingly determined by their ability to shift into the renewable energy market. So far, U.S. companies are not keeping up.
Total plans to continue pursuing offshore wind leases with its Castle Wind partner, Trident Winds, in a California sale in late 2022, reports offshoreWIND.biz.