Supply Chain Road Map for Offshore Wind Energy
This study evaluates how the U.S. supply chain can evolve to achieve the national offshore wind energy target and create local economic benefits.
The national offshore wind energy target of 30 gigawatts by 2030 referenced the potential benefits of establishing a domestic supply chain, including providing existing suppliers with the ability to produce thousands of components while creating tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.
Achieving these benefits will require a significant ramp-up in domestic manufacturing, infrastructure, and workforce, all of which are currently too limited to support the needed levels of commercial-scale offshore wind energy deployment. Ongoing efforts to develop the domestic supply chain have been focused on individual state levels, and a comprehensive assessment of how to strategically develop a supply chain that benefits the entire industry and country is needed.
NREL is leading the 30 GW by 2030: A Supply Chain Road Map for Offshore Wind in the United States project to create a road map that identifies challenges and solutions to developing a nationally focused offshore wind energy supply chain that has the potential to manufacture all major components domestically by 2030.
The project is overseen by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium and conducted by a partnership among NREL, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, and DNV. Funding and support are provided by the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, the Maryland Energy Administration, and the U.S Department of Energy.
The project includes two phases, each with a published report.
The Demand for a Domestic Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain (released in March 2022) highlights the top-level demand for deployment, components, ports, vessels, and workforce required to achieve the national offshore wind target of 30 gigawatts of capacity.
Requirements for Deploying
30 Gigawatts of Offshore Wind Energy
average annual workforce
Key findings include:
- Deploying 30 gigawatts by 2030 will require at least:
- 2,100 wind turbines
- 2,100 foundations
- 6,800 miles of cable
- 58 crew transfer vessels
- 5–6 wind turbine installation vessels
- 11 service operation vessels
- 4 cable lay vessels
- 2 scour protection vessels
- 10 transport vessels
- 12,300–49,000 average annual workforce full-time equivalents.
- Most components in the early 2020s will be sourced from European suppliers, which
could cause bottlenecks unless a domestic supply chain develops in time to achieve
the offshore wind energy target.
- Few existing East or West Coast ports have sufficient capabilities to fully support
offshore wind energy activities, although several ports are actively investing in
- New vessels are required to alleviate risks of missing the national offshore wind
energy target, with wind turbine installation vessels posing the biggest risk, followed
by feeder barges (which transfer components, cable lay vessels, service operation
vessels, and scour protection vessels).
- Manufacturing major components domestically will create tens of thousands of annual
jobs. Most of these jobs will be concentrated in the supporting supply chains instead
of in fabrication of the final products, which can distribute jobs and benefits throughout
the United States.
- Though only one major offshore wind component manufacturing facility was operational
as of early 2022, original equipment manufacturers and project developers have announced
plans to build at least 11 new manufacturing facilities in the United States, including
those focused on wind turbine blades, foundations, towers, and cables.
- In addition to the need for major component manufacturing in the United States, the
research team identified several critical-path subcomponents that pose a challenge
to domestic manufacturing because of their size or specialty, including:
- Yaw and pitch bearings
- Permanent magnets
- Flanges and other large cast or forged components
- Steel plates that are rolled into monopiles or towers
- Electrical systems for offshore substations
- Mooring chains.
The second phase of this project will build on the high-level demand information described in the first report to:
- Characterize supply chain scenarios that would achieve complete domestic manufacturing of components by 2030, including
manufacturing facilities, workforce requirements, and manufacturing capabilities
- Evaluate the potential benefits of such a supply chain, including benefits and jobs as well as impact on project
- Identify realistic pathways to achieve this supply chain
- Determine readiness level of existing industries to support supply chain development.
Report Outlines Supply Chain Needs To Achieve Offshore Wind 2030 Goal, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (2022)
The Demand for a Domestic Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain, NREL Technical Report (2022)