Wind energy companies bid record-shattering amounts Thursday for the rights to develop federal waters off the Massachusetts coast, offering the Interior Department $285 million thus far for 3 tracts.
The bidding signals that offshore wind in the U.S., which has been slow to develop, is poised for significant expansion.
- Last December a single area offered off New York’s coast drew a $42 million winning bid from Norwegian oil-and-gas giant Equinor, which is increasingly moving into renewables.
- Now, the high bids thus far for the 3 Massachusetts areas are $93 million, $91 million and $101 million.
The current amount of U.S. power from offshore wind is close to zero — there’s only a single small project operating off Rhode Island. However, a number of projects are in the development pipeline off Atlantic states like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, where Vineyard Wind is planning a major project 14 miles off the coast.
Several forces are driving the trend, including falling tech costs, state-based renewables policies (including a procurement mandate in Massachusetts), Interior Department backing, and interest from European energy giants with experience.