New study outlines opportunities for UK companies in growth of US offshore wind

Source: press release, 14 September 2021

Xodus US vice president for renewables, Hillary Bright
Xodus US vice president for renewables, Hillary Bright (photo: Xodus)

The British Consulate-General in Boston, Massachusetts, has commissioned global energy consultancy Xodus to undertake a US industry analysis to determine the opportunities available for UK companies to enter the growing US offshore wind market.

The study states that a lack of maturity in the US offshore wind supply chain currently translates to the need for a rapid expansion in products and services required to deliver projects on time and on budget. Developers tend to de-risk a project by sticking with known entities and avoiding the perceived additional cost of EPCI contracts, especially for those with complexity, long lead times, and critical components.

The research shows there are multiple opportunities for experienced UK companies to become involved at early stages of industry development, assist from their home bases and leverage this acceleration to establish a local presence in the US.

Dr Peter Abbott OBE, British Consul General to New England, comments, “I’m delighted that the Xodus analysis has identified so many opportunities for UK companies to support the growing US offshore wind industry with their experience and expertise. With the largest amount of installed offshore wind capacity anywhere in the world, the UK is a global leader in offshore wind and our private and public sector expertise is therefore uniquely equipped to play a vital role in the US. In order to better support British companies from the UK’s thriving Northern Powerhouse region, home to some of Britain’s most dynamic offshore wind clusters, we have appointed Hannah Webb as the British Consulate’s offshore wind and clean energy Trade Officer to develop long-lasting partnerships in New England and along the East Coast of the United States.”

Currently all contracted offshore wind farms under development in the US are located on the east coast. It is anticipated that USD 80 billion in capex expenditures will be made in developing the industry by 2030, and that up to 80,000 jobs will be created. With the recent Record of Decision granted to Vineyard Wind I, the first commercial scale US offshore wind farm, it is anticipated that the approval of the other projects in the pipeline will accelerate.

There is a push to develop local content in the US offshore wind industry, and states are eager to attract industries that support all phases of wind farm development, construction and operations. It is expected that these industries will cluster around eastern US ports, and the growth of a supporting supply chain will quickly follow.

“A critical consideration for companies looking to enter the US offshore wind market is where to establish a presence. Supply chain clusters in the UK have been seen to support the development of unique skills and technology solutions in the offshore wind sector,” says Hannah Webb, Trade Officer of Offshore Wind and Clean Energy for the UK Department for International Trade. “Effective clusters work to leverage the supply capabilities within their membership to create linkages and generate growth opportunities. The collective demand from participants enables efficiencies in both identification and delivery of contracting opportunities and sector-wide support.”

“With the intel that Xodus is providing, we are working to understand the location and strengths of potential US supply chain hubs and strategising successful market entry for companies from the Northern Powerhouse, UK. These companies have significant offshore wind development experience in the UK, Europe, and even Asia, to offer to the US market and we are building impactful partnerships around the clusters and ports that Xodus has identified along the East Coast of the US.”

Over the last 12 months, Xodus’ team has conducted research into the local and regional supply chain around Massachusetts and carried out an assessment and gap analysis for Hampton Roads and the southern Virginia region. The company is also supporting SMEs in the growth of the offshore wind supply chain across the Atlantic, in Scotland.

Hillary Bright, US VP for Renewables at Xodus says, “Developers, OEMs and Tier 1 offshore suppliers are committed to developing a US-based supply chain. Communicating requirements and drawing the right companies into the US offshore wind supply chain has been cited as a challenge by developers and Tier 1 suppliers. Economic development agencies, industry associations and public-private partnerships have been established to improve local knowledge of the industry. These organisations are focused on a streamlined exchange of information between local companies and potential industry partners to improve the integration of the US supply chain in offshore wind.”

“There is a significant benefit from first mover advantage in the developing the US supply chain. The ambitious federal offshore wind capacity targets are creating project demand to warrant a long-term US supply chain. There are significant export opportunities for UK supply chain companies throughout the offshore wind project phases, however these appear to be strongest in project development, construction and O&M services where UK companies can offer both established and innovative solutions based on their experience supporting domestic offshore wind projects,” Bright adds.