Developing a winning bid to deliver offshore wind power
Investing in the development of renewable energy sources continues to increase in importance, with leading countries committing to reducing their impact on the environment and guaranteeing energy security. This is why ocean waters around the United States are hot property as offshore wind becomes the nation’s next major energy source.
There are over 10 offshore wind projects in the pipeline between now and 2026 with multiple developers vying for a slice of seabed and the opportunity to deploy capital into wind farms.
US Wind is one such player in the nascent American offshore wind market. With a lease to develop 80,000 acres of seabed secured, it needed an expert partner to support its bid submission. This meant defending the bid in front of regulators at an acceptable cost to state ratepayers who would foot the bill.
Through our deep understanding of market regulations and energy policy in the offshore wind space, our team worked with US Wind to prepare a competitive bid price and secure US Wind the project against more experienced European competitors.
US Wind is now in a position to deploy $3.4 billion of capital into a project that will create 1,300 jobs in the state of Maryland and propel its status as a significant player in the US offshore wind industry.
- Applied sustainability, advanced analytics, investment and regulatory expertise to build a bespoke bid model that showed the impact of the offshore wind project on ratepayers
- Provided expert witness support in front of state regulators to secure the project
- Enabled US Wind’s success, unleashing $3.4 billion of development into the offshore development and generating 1,300 jobs
- Cemented US Wind’s status as a major homegrown player in America’s nascent offshore wind industry
Bringing clean energy to America’s shores
The United States government has set ambitious clean energy targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030.
Driving this is a bold commitment to decarbonise the power sector by 2035. To deliver a proportion of this, attention is turning towards the ocean. Offshore wind is a relatively nascent industry in the US, but it could provide more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) of energy—two times the present generation of the entire US electric grid.
US Wind, the leading offshore wind developer in Maryland with lease rights to 80,000 acres of seabed, is competing for an increasing share of projects, predominantly along the east coast.
Having recently won the lease to an 80,000 acre area of seabed, US Wind also hoped to win a state contract to build the wind farm. To do this, it was required to demonstrate to state lawmakers that it could deliver the project at a price that would enable a cost-effective rate of return for consumers.
Bidding as the underdog
US Wind needed an expert advisor to analyse the rules and regulations that impact the cost of energy and benchmark against potential competitor bid prices. Our team brought the right blend of expertise across market rules, regulations and potential future outcomes to ensure the project could be delivered. Once submitted, US Wind then needed our support to present their bid to the Maryland Public Service Commission to get it approved.
From the outset, however, the company faced competition from major European energy firms with track records in offshore wind farm developments in the US and elsewhere.
US Wind had to prove that its bid was realistic, that it could deliver the project, and that it would adhere to strict state regulations that control the cost of energy for ratepayers.
A bespoke model to deliver cost-efficient energy
Our team has over 20 years’ experience in modelling the cost of energy across North America taking into account commodity costs, regulatory and policy drivers, consumer demand, infrastructure build costs and other variables that affect how much people pay for electricity.
This time, however, US Wind would need a bespoke model.
US Wind needed to show, in granular detail, the impact of adding this offshore wind facility to the generation mix in the state of Maryland. This meant tailoring our analysis to match the state’s regulatory requirements in a highly transparent process.
Navigating complex regulations
US Wind and our team combined our expertise across market rules and regulations to iterate through different scenarios that would impact the economic viability of the project.
Following the initial approval of the bid, we enabled US Wind to navigate the complex regulatory environment with expert witness testimony. Over the course of a three-day hearing, we were on hand to provide further data and analysis and respond to real time questions from the Commission. This testimony eventually proved pivotal in the Commission approving the building of the wind facility.
- After we spotted an anomaly in its initial ratepayer test model, US Wind engaged us as their partner.
- Our team worked with US Wind to build a bespoke model and develop the lowest cost bid.
- US Wind submitted its bid and won initial approval against competitors from European energy companies.
- US Wind asked us to provide evidence to the Maryland Public Service Commission that the bid was viable and wouldn’t adversely impact individual ratepayers.
- US Wind was successful, securing the contract to build the offshore wind facility, which will not only reduce carbon emissions but support the local economy with well-paying jobs.
Deploying billions and boosting the local economy
Using our bespoke analytics model, we enabled US Wind to develop the lowest cost bid that met all of the ratepayer tests and resulted in the successful award of the project.
As such, US Wind is now in a position to deploy $3.4 billion of capital for its significant offshore wind farm development. Separately, US Wind has also committed a minimum of $570 million in other state-wide infrastructure projects, including through the development of a monopile (the structure anchoring the wind farm to the seabed) construction facility.
Overall, the project will support more than 1,300 Maryland jobs and US Wind has committed to using union labour and minority businesses to fill many of these positions, providing a significant boost to the wider economy.
Contributing to a carbon-free future
Furthermore, this win cements US Wind’s position as a leading player in the North American offshore wind market as it competes in an increasing volume of projects, including in Delaware. It also contributes to the wider effort to decarbonise the United States’ power sector by 2035. The project will reduce CO2 emissions by 20.4 million short tons – the equivalent of more than 2.3 million homes’ energy use for one year – over a 20-year period while also reducing NOx and SO2 emissions.