Wind companies place record bids for Atlantic Ocean sites

offshore wind farm (AGL)
Image: Nicholas Doherty/Unsplash, FAL

The US’s biggest offshore wind lease sale has attracted record bids of more than US$4 billion as renewable energy developers compete to secure a prime location to install turbines, the Financial Times reports.

The federal government auction of 488,000 acres in the Atlantic Ocean near New York and New Jersey drew in high bids totalling US$4.37 billion after a three-day auction process, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The demand for leases in the area, known as the New York Bight, comes as US President Joe Biden looks to kick-start the country’s offshore wind sector as part of a broader push to decarbonise its power industry by 2035. The administration has set a goal of 30GW of wind power in US waters by 2030.

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The biggest of the six lease blocks under the hammer went for US$1.1 billion to Bight Wind Holdings—a venture between utilities RWE of Germany and National Grid of the UK.

The amount was more than eight times the previous record for a single area. A venture between the oil major Shell and French utility EDF snapped up another block, while Portugal’s EDP Renewables and France’s Engie jointly took a third one.

The nation’s previous offshore wind auction in 2018, for 390,000 acres off the coast of Massachusetts, brought in US$405 million. While US onshore wind farms account for 124GW of capacity, only two small offshore operations have been built in the country to date, leaving it far behind Europe.

The permitting process has been expedited under the current White House administration. Two large wind farms have been fully permitted and begun construction. The latest auction was the first of as many as seven offshore lease sales the administration hopes to hold by the end of 2025. Others are planned off the coasts of the Carolinas and California later this year, the interior department said.

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