In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The Biden administration has approved Vineyard Wind 1, the first major offshore wind farm in federal waters.
  • The IEA raises its forecast for global wind and solar growth by another 25% compared to six months ago.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Vineyard Wind

Update May 11, 12:38 EDT: Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo today announced approval of the construction and operation of the Vineyard Wind project — the first large-scale, offshore wind project in the United States. 

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), chair of the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, sent the following statement to Electrek:

With this record of decision on Vineyard Wind on the books, the era of American offshore wind is no longer on the horizon — it’s here, now, off the coast of Massachusetts, and the answer to America’s energy future is blowing in the offshore wind.

Vineyard Wind will be the first of many offshore wind projects to come, and we can use our Bay State know-how to show the rest of the country how to get steel in the water, zero-emission energy on the grid, and union jobs to American workers. 

Vineyard Wind 1 off the coast of Massachusetts is now cleared for construction. It’s the first major offshore wind farm in US federal waters.

It will have 800 megawatts of installed capacity, sufficient to meet demand from over 400,000 Massachusetts homes and businesses according to parent company Iberdrola’s website. It’s expected to begin supplying power by late 2022.

To put the project in perspective, the two much smaller existing US offshore wind farms (Block Island and a pilot project off the Virginia coast) have a collective capacity of fewer than 50 megawatts of power.

The project is 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and is expected to feature up to 84 12 megawatt GE Haliade-X wind turbines. The project is a joint 50/50 venture of Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

The Biden administration intends to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030. At the state level, Massachusetts on Friday launched a 1.6 GW offshore wind tender. It’s the state’s third offshore wind solicitation. In its first two offshore solicitations, Massachusetts selected the Vineyard Wind 1 and Mayflower Wind proposals, with a combined capacity of roughly 1,600 MW. 

IEA’s revised wind and solar forecast

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has raised its forecast for the global growth of wind and solar by another 25% compared to figures it published six months ago. This puts wind and solar on track to match global gas capacity by 2022.

The IEA reports:

In 2020, annual renewable capacity additions increased 45% to almost 280 GW – the highest year-on year increase since 1999.

Exceptionally high capacity additions become the “new normal” in 2021 and 2022, with renewables accounting for 90% of new power capacity expansion globally.

Solar PV development will continue to break records, with annual additions reaching 162 GW by 2022 – almost 50% higher than the pre-pandemic level of 2019.

Global wind capacity additions increased more than 90% in 2020 to reach 114 GW. While the pace of annual market growth slows in 2021 and 2022, it is still 50% higher than the 2017-2019 average.

And as Carbon Brief reports, “the new forecast for 2021 is nearly 40% higher than the one published by the IEA just a year ago, in May 2020.”

The IEA has boosted its US forecasts by more than 20% thanks to the expected extension of renewable energy tax credits.

The forecast does not yet include the Biden administration’s new emissions reduction targets or its infrastructure bill, which the IEA says would boost renewable growth after 2022, if enacted.

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