Category Archives: Power Market Analysis

Three New Wind Energy Leases Offshore Massachusetts: Review of BOEM Auction Results and Competitive Implications

Over the last two days BOEM auctioned three leases offshore Massachusetts to Vineyard Wind, Mayflower Wind, and Equinor Wind. Vineyard Wind is a joint venture of Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, with an existing Massachusetts lease and a contract for an 800 MW project with the Massachusetts electric distribution companies (EDCs). Mayflower Wind Energy LLC is an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. and EDP Renewables; it is the first position in the US OSW market for both companies.[1] Equinor is a Norwegian energy developer that holds the rights to the only existing BOEM lease offshore New York. This sale attracted historic attention from 19 qualified parties and 11 bidders. At the end of 32 rounds the total acquisition fee was $405.1 million ($135.1 million Vineyard Wind and $135 million for the other two winning parties).

Competitive Implications of ATLW-4A

Overall this should be a positive development for the competitiveness of the New England and broader Northeast OSW market. It introduces two new competitors to the region and strengthens Vineyard Wind’s position as an incumbent developer. Equinor represents a new competitor to the Southern New England OSW market. Equinor wouldn’t have been able to compete effectively in the Southern New England OSW market from its New York lease given the distance of this lease from New England and the associated incremental cost of transmission and the marginally worse wind resource in its New York WEA. While the primary opportunity will be for long-term contracts with the Southern New England EDCs, the projects from these lease areas should be able to compete in future New York procurements (which has a target of 2,400 MW by 2030) and possibly New Jersey (3,500 MW by 2030).

The interest of Equinor and Shell indicates the similarities of offshore wind and oil/gas development, both require significant engineering capability and careful management of project logistics, with significant capital requirements over an extended period of time before production begins.

The pricing relative to previous lease sales is a strong indication of market interest and the promise offered by the Northeastern OSW market. Adding two new competitors to the Southern New England market will enhance the competitiveness of solicitations. However, with one element of the evaluation criteria in the various OSW RFPs the project’s underlying maturity it may take a while for consumers to see the benefits of this increased competition.

Comparison to Atlantic Wind Lease Sales

Prior to ATLW-4A there have been 7 lease sales for 11 areas from North Carolina to Massachusetts. The average acquisition fee was $6.7 million. One of the first Massachusetts lease areas was acquired by OffshoreMW LLC (now Vineyard Wind) for as little as $150,197. The next highest sale after today’s results is the New York lease sale of OCS-A 0512 to Equinor in 2016 for a total acquisition fee of $42.5 million from 33 rounds of bidding by 6 total participants. Even in comparison to the New York sale the result of ATLW-4A is more than seven times greater.

Power Advisory_ATLW4A BOEM MA Lease Sale_2018-12-14

[1] Shell did qualify for the North Carolina lease sale (ATLW-7) in 2017 but did participate in the auction.

Review of Atlantic Offshore Wind Procurement Policy and Developments

Over the last year major commitments have been made with respect to the US offshore wind (OSW) market. From only 30 MW operating, approximately 2,000 MW has been contracted and a cumulative +10 GW of installed capacity is now expected by the early 2030s. The growing interest in OSW has been concentrated in the Atlantic, particularly the Northeast which has the strongest state policies for OSW. An indicative schedule of this development by state is presented in the figure below.[1] Power Advisory then provides a high-level review of the procurement processes in New England, New York, and New Jersey as the primary markets, representing about 80% of this total.

New England

As part of the 2016 Act to Promote Energy Diversity, Massachusetts established a procurement target of 1,600 MW of offshore wind by 2030. The first solicitation for OSW proposals, referred to as the 2017 Section 83C RFP, resulted in the selection of 800 MW from Vineyard Wind in May 2018. The contracts for this project are currently before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities with a real levelized price for energy and RECs of $64.97 per MWh (2017$).[1]  On July 31st, An Act to Advance Clean Energy was passed, instructing a cost benefit analysis to be completed for an additional 1,600 MW of offshore wind by 2035 and specified that the Department of Energy Resources “may require said additional solicitation and procurements.” Governor Baker, who was recently reelected, signed a pledge to complete this study during the campaign. Given the compelling economics of the long-term contracts secured through the first Massachusetts OSW solicitation we believe that this effectively doubles the Commonwealth’s OSW goal to 3.2 GW by 2035 without the need for additional legislative authority.

In May, Rhode Island selected 400 MW from Deepwater Wind’s Revolution Wind Project.[2] Deepwater Wind has entered into contract negotiations with National Grid. An executed contract for energy and RECs is expected to be filed with the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission by the end the year.

Connecticut also selected 200 MW from Deepwater Wind’s Revolution Wind Project. The wind farm will be part of the same project selected by Rhode Island, but will deliver electricity directly to the state via a separate export cable. On September 14th, Connecticut closed an RFP for 12 TWh of zero-carbon energy which is said to have received offshore wind proposals. The evaluation phase will be completed in Q4 2018/Q1 2019. Additional opportunities for OSW contracts from Connecticut are uncertain.

The southern New England states have each approached OSW with long-term contracts for bundled energy and RECs, consistent with contracting practice for other clean energy resources in the region. The retention of capacity value by developers provides an incentive for suppliers to maximize that value through efficient operating practices.  The PPA requires the seller to participate in the Forward Capacity Market so that this value can be considered by ISO-NE and ultimately realized by customers.

Evaluation of OSW proposals in New England has focused on economic benefits. For example, the evaluation procedure used in the 2017 Section 83C RFP was based on a 75/25 split between economic benefits and qualitative considerations. Direct economic benefits were assessed based on comparing the proposal price and any required transmission upgrade costs with its direct economic benefits as measured on the basis of the net present value of energy (by LMP) and the value of Class I RECs. Four indirect proposal benefits of wholesale energy price savings, RPS compliance cost savings, incremental greenhouse gas reduction compliance savings, and economic impact of resource winter firmness were also considered. Qualitative considerations included: (1) siting, permitting, and project schedule risks; (2) reliability benefits; (3) other benefits, costs and project risks; (4) environmental impacts from siting; and (5) economic development benefits to the state.

New York

Governor Cuomo established a goal of 2,400 MW of OSW by 2030 in 2017. Offshore wind is a key component of the state’s Clean Energy Standard (CES) of 50% clean energy by 2030. The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) 2015 South Fork RFP that was open to all resources resulted in the selection of Deepwater’s 97 MW South Fork Wind Farm. This project is expected to come online in 2022 and counts towards the state’s 2.4 GW goal.

NYSERDA released a final RFP to solicit 800 MW or more of offshore wind today (November 8, 2018). Bids are due February 14, 2019. The remainder of the 2,400 MW goal (Phase II) will be procured at a later date. New York has also begun securing stakeholder input on the appropriate transmission development framework for Phase II.

NYSERDA is employing a scoring system that considers price and non-price factors, with each project scored according to a 100-point scale based on three criteria:

  1. Project Viability: 10 points – Non-Price Evaluation
  2. New York Economic Benefits: 20 points – Non-Price Evaluation
  3. Offer Strike Prices: 70 points – Price Evaluation

Project viability is assessed in terms of whether the proposed project can reasonably be expected to be in service on or before the proposed Commercial Operation Date. To maximize the score received, proposers must demonstrate that project development plans are mature, and technically and logistically feasible, that they have sufficient experience, expertise, and financial resources to execute the development plans in a commercially reasonable and timely manner. New York Economic Benefits are measured in terms of three considerations: (1) project-specific spending and job creation in New York State; (2) investment in offshore wind-related supply chain and infrastructure development in New York State; and (3) activities that provide opportunities for the New York offshore wind supply chain, workforce, and research and development.

Offer strike prices are assessed in terms of a: (1) an Index OREC price and; (2) a Fixed OREC price. The Index OREC price will vary monthly based on the value of Index OREC Strike Price specified minus the monthly Reference Energy Price and the monthly Reference Capacity Price. The Fixed OREC price is based on the fixed price specified by the proposer. In essence, the Index OREC price is a contract for difference that considers relevant energy and capacity prices, thereby providing a market price hedge that should support more attractive financing terms than the Fixed OREC.[3]  The Index OREC price will be given a weight of 0.9 and the fixed OREC price a weight of 0.1 to establish the weighted strike price for each proposal.  Either OREC strike price option can be chosen at NYSERDA’s discretion. NYSERDA’s decision will be based upon its projection of the relative costs of the Fixed ORECs and Index ORECs compared to the relative price risks of the Fixed ORECs and Index ORECs over the life of the contract.

If the Fixed OREC price option is chosen, the OREC price will remain for the entirety of the contact length, 20 to 25 years. If the Index OREC is chosen, the OREC will remain for the entirety of the contract unless the Index OREC price is invalidated.

New Jersey

The Offshore Wind Economic Development Act authorized the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to establish an OREC program in 2010. After almost eight years of stalled implementation and development under the previous administration, newly sworn in Governor Murphy signed Executive Order #8 (EO8) on January 31st, 2018. E08 directed all New Jersey agencies with responsibilities under the OWEDA to fully implement it in order to meet a goal of obtaining 3,500 MW from OSW by 2030.

On September 20, 2018 New Jersey opened its first “application” for 1,100 MW of OSW. This will be the nation’s largest OSW solicitation to date. The application window will close on December 28, 2018, with the BPU required to act on the proposals by July 1st, 2019. The goal of the compressed procurement timeline is to maximize the ability of developers to capture the expiring federal ITC and increase the attendant economic benefits that can be realized by the state from the development of the regional industry. Governor Murphy has also directed a target of 2020 and 2022 for two additional BPU solicitations of 1,200 MW to reach the overall goal of 3,500 MW. Identifying these second and third large, near-term procurements is also intended to induce the OSW supply chain to locate in New Jersey.

Separately, EDF Renewables and Fisherman’s Energy have submitted an OREC application to the BPU for approval of the 24 MW Nautilus OSW farm with a planned COD in 2020.

The OREC structure in New Jersey differs from the typical Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) programs (ex. RECs, SRECs), which provide an additional source of revenue beyond energy and capacity. The BPU’s OREC Funding Mechanism is largely based on the procurement of a bundled energy, environmental attribute and capacity product. The use of an OREC ultimately adds complexity with respect to the administration of the ORECs and risk to OSW developers (e.g., variances between actual and forecast OSW output) and in Power Advisory’s opinion could be more simply administered with stronger performance incentives with a PPA that procured energy and environmental attributes. However, this is the framework that was legislatively directed and is expected to be used for all three upcoming procurements.

Rather that issue a formal request for proposals the New Jersey BPU issued Guidelines for applications for the sale of ORECs.[4] These guidelines identify the requirements for applications and outline the six criteria that the BPU will use to rank proposals.  These six criteria are:

(1)   OREC Purchase Price, which can be fixed or escalating;

(2)   Economic impacts, which includes, the number of jobs created, increases in wages, taxes receipts and state gross product for each MW of capacity constructed;

(3)   Ratepayer impacts, which considers the average increase in residential and commercial customer bills along with the timing of any rate impacts;

(4)   Environmental impacts, which includes the net reductions of pollutants for each MWh generated and the feasibility and strength of the applicant’s plan to minimize environmental impacts created by project construction and operation;

(5)   The strength of guarantees for economic impacts, which considers all measures proposed to assure that claimed benefits will materialize as well as plans for maximizing revenue from the sales of energy, capacity and ancillary services; and

(6)    Likelihood of successful commercial operation, which includes feasibility of project timelines, permitting plans, equipment and labor supply plans and the current progress displayed in achieving these plans.

There’s very little transparency regarding the evaluation process and how tradeoffs regarding these six criteria will be assessed.  The Guidelines indicate that “ranking and weighting of the six criteria by the BPU will reflect the goals of the solicitation especially as stated in the Governor’s Executive Order No. 8.” Based on our experience we believe that this lack of detail regarding how these criteria as well as tradeoffs among these criteria will be assessed, may hamper the ability of proponents to craft proposals that best satisfy New Jersey’s objectives.

Power Advisory would welcome the opportunity to assist clients in understanding the opportunities presented by the emerging US offshore wind industry.

 

A PDF of this update is available here.

[1] Note the schedule represents anticipated commercial operation date versus when the capacity is expected to be solicited. For Massachusetts, Vineyard Wind was originally proposed as two 400 MW phases coming into service in late 2021 and 2022, but in its Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Report Vineyard Wind announced that it would construct the full 800 MW simultaneously and commission the project in mid-2022.

[1] This price escalates at 2.5% per annum and the project owner retains revenues from ISO-NE’s Forward Capacity market.

[2] On October 8th Ørsted announced that it was acquiring Deepwater Wind and its portfolio of 5 PPAs representing 810 MW for $510 million.

[3] An assumption must be made regarding the UCAP Production Factor so that the project nameplate capacity can be converted to UCAP.  NYSERDA allows a proponent to use a default UCAP Production Factor of 38% consistent with the NYISO’s Installed Capacity Manual or to specify a project-specific value. These values will be constant throughout the contract term. The ability to specify an alternative UCAP Production Factor presents an opportunity for proponents to change the risk/reward profile and as such warrants analysis.

[4] Guidelines for Application Submission for Proposed Offshore Wind Facilities

 

Review of NYSERDA Renewable Energy Standard RFP 1 Results

On June 2, 2017 the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) issued the 2017 Renewable Energy Standard Request for Proposals (RESRFP17-1). The RFP was the first issued under the state’s Clean Energy Standard. The Clean Energy Standard requires that 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, representing about a doubling of the state’s renewable energy requirements. The standard puts an obligation on retail electricity suppliers to purchase increasing amounts of renewable energy to supply their customers. To assists these retailers in meeting their obligations, NYSERDA is required to support the development of large-scale renewable projects by issuing periodic requests for proposals (RFPs) to enter into long-term contracts (i.e., up to 20 years) with renewable energy developers. These RFPs provide for the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs), rather than bundled energy and RECs.

The 2017 Renewable Energy Request for Proposals resulted in agreements to develop 26 new large-scale renewable projects. Of the 26 projects selected, 22 are solar, 3 are wind, and one is a hydroelectric project. In addition, one of the selected wind farms will include an energy storage component. The 26 projects will add 1,383 MW of capacity and generate 3.2 TWh per year, providing about 2% of the 50% 2030 target. The weighted average price for the Tier 1 RECs purchased was reported as $21.71. A map of the selected projects is included below:

Exelon’s Proposed Retirement of its Mystic Plant: Ensuring the Attention of ISO-New England

April 3, 2018

Last Thursday, Exelon Generation (Exelon) announced that it had filed with ISO-New England to retire the Mystic Generating Station’s Units 7, 8, 9, and the Jet unit on June 1, 2022.  Exelon noted “absent any regulatory reforms to properly value reliability and regional fuel security, these units will not participate in the Forward Capacity Auction scheduled for February 2019.”  Mystic offers over 2,000 MW of capacity, making it the largest generating station in Massachusetts and one of the largest in New England.   ISO-New England reported that Exelon submitted delisted bids in the Forward Capacity Auction that was conducted in February.

On March 17th at a New England Restructuring Roundtable Meeting, Gordon Van Weile, President & CEO of ISO-New England, opened the door to such regulatory reforms when discussing the fuel security analysis that the ISO had completed.  His presentation noted that the “The ISO can take action through its market design and tariff to procure ‘insurance’ to alleviate, but not eliminate, fuel-security risk.”  More specific references to possible changes were offered in his formal remarks.  In its Press Release announcing the proposed retirement, Exelon indicated that “ISO-NE recently stated that it may propose interim and long-term market rule changes to address system resiliency in light of significant reliability risks identified in ISO-NE’s January 2018 fuel security report.”

The significance of these retirements is exacerbated by the unique reliability attributes of these units.  First, they are located in the Northeast Massachusetts-Boston area, which has been found to be an import-constrained zone in the past and would likely be determined to be again with the retirement of this capacity.   Second while Mystic 8 and 9 are natural gas-fired, they are not connected to the interstate natural gas transmission pipeline network that serves New England. They are directly connected to the Everett LNG terminal.  Therefore, these two CCGTs are not subject to the same natural gas supply constraints that affect the rest of ISO-New England’s natural gas fleet.  This fact was recognized in ISO-NE’s fuel security analysis.

Interestingly, at this same time Exelon also disclosed that it would be purchasing the LNG terminal from ENGIE North America.  The ISO-New England fuel security analysis demonstrated the importance of the continued operation of the Everett LNG terminal to New England electricity supply reliability.  With a sustainable sendout of about .4 Bcf per day, after the volumes delivered to Mystic 8 and 9 are netted out, the Everett LNG terminal can provide about 9% of New England’s interstate delivery capability (excluding the output of the local LNG and propane storage facilities operated by the region’s gas distribution utilities.)

While one might question why Exelon would purchase the LNG terminal if it planned to retire two generating units that utilize about 30 to 40% of its throughput, with the purchase of the LNG terminal Exelon has purchased a natural gas fuel price hedge.[1] The purchase of the Everett LNG Terminal enables Exelon to secure the world-wide price for LNG for natural gas supplies for Mystic 8 and 9.  This will be beneficial during winter high demand periods, but could result in higher fuel prices in other periods unless Exelon is able to secure contracts with LNG suppliers that are based on an Algonquin City Gate (New England natural gas pricing point) netback price.  Conceivably, Exelon has elected to forgo the modest operating margins in many of these other hours to lock in greater margins during winter peak periods.[2]

Also contributing to the significance of the loss of this capacity is that Mystic 7 is dual-fueled (natural gas and residual oil) with a winter capacity rating of 560 MW.  The importance of dual-fuel capability to maintaining reliability was highlighted this winter, where in a two-week period New England oil-fired generation regularly represented upwards of 35% of the regional fuel mix.

ISO-NE will need to evaluate the reliability impacts of these proposed retirements, but cannot prevent the units from retiring.  This announcement would add to the growing list of retirements, which by the early 2020s would represent (with the addition of this 2,000 MW) about 23% New England’s generation capacity.

[1] The current price of natural gas for Mystic 8 and 9 is reported be pegged to the Algonquin City Gate price so that these units are generally ensured access to natural gas, but at a market price.

[2] Reported prices for LNG deliveries to the Everett Terminal in 2017 ranged from $3.03/MMBtu to $4.00/MMBtu from April to October 2017. US DOE, LNG Monthly, January 2018

Integration of Variable Output Renewable Energy Sources – The Importance of Essential Reliability Services

Power Advisory prepared a report (available here) on the importance of Essential Reliability Services (ERS) in the integration of variable output renewable energy resources for Natural Resources Canada with direction and input provided by Canada’s Federal Provincial Territorial Electricity Working Group. The paper was presented by NRCan in August 2017 at the Energy and Mines Minister’s Conference in New Brunswick.

BOEM Massachusetts Offshore Wind Lease Opportunity Review

John Dalton, President & Michael Ernst, Executive Advisor, Power Advisory LLC

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has indicated that it will be conducting auctions for two additional lease areas for the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area (WEA) in 2018.  The auction of the two lease areas, an aggregate of 388,569 acres (248,015 and 140,554 acres, respectively) with a maximum development potential of 4,717 MW, is in response to unsolicited lease applications from Statoil Wind US LLC and PNE Wind USA Inc. from December 2016 (See Figure 1 below). These Norwegian and German affiliated developers have announced plans for multiple +400MW projects, but since both expressed interest in the same lease area BOEM must hold a lease auction in which all qualified parties may participate.   Lease Areas OCS-A 0502 and 0503 make up the remaining Massachusetts WEA.

Figure 1: MA and RI Offshore Wind Project Areas

Source: BOEM

The interest in these two additional lease areas is expected to be strong given that lease holders will be able to participate in subsequent rounds of the Massachusetts offshore wind RFPs for 20-year power contracts issued to allow the Commonwealth to realize its legislated objective of 1,600 MW of offshore wind by 2027.[1]  The total area to be leased is over four times the size of the New York lease area. This memo reviews the anticipated form of auction to be employed by BOEM and opportunities for interested parties to begin to prepare to participate successfully in such a process.

Auction Format

BOEM has typically employed a multiple-factor auction format, under which BOEM considers a combination of monetary and nonmonetary factors.  Non-monetary factors are considered by a panel which determines whether the bidder has earned non-monetary credits and the percentage that the credit may be worth.  The previous Auction for North and South Rhode Island and Massachusetts lease areas provided for a credit of up to 25% of a monetary bid for a Power Purchase Agreement or Joint Development Agreement.

The auction is based on ascending bidding, i.e., ascending clock auction, over multiple rounds.  To enhance competition BOEM shares information with bidders on the number of bidders for each Lease Area for each round.  At the start of each round BOEM specifies an asking price for each Lease Area.  A bidder must submit a bid for the full asking price for at least one lease area to participate in the next round of the auction.  A bidder may submit an intra-round bid, which is greater than the last round’s price, but less than the current round.  In essence, the bidder may elect to bid less than the BOEM asking price as a final exit bid.  When there are multiple lease areas activity rules are employed that allow bidders to switch lease areas that they bid on, but require minimum levels of participation.  A bid deposit must cover each bid, and will be deducted from the winning bid price or refunded if the bid is not successful. Bid deposits have been $450,000 for the most recent BOEM lease auctions.[2]

To participate in the auction, the bidder must first be qualified by BOEM and become an eligible bidder.  Qualification requirements focus on legal, technical and financial capability as specified in 30 CFR 585.106 and 585.107.[3]  Eligible bidders must complete a Bidders Financial Form, which provides details of accounts from which funds will be provided and to where refunds will be directed and individuals authorized to bid and submit bid deposits generally two weeks prior to the date of the auction.  At this time, bidders would also provide a non-Monetary package if they were applying for a credit for community benefits based on an executed agreement with a qualified community organization or municipality.

Evaluating Participation in the Massachusetts WEA Lease Auction

In assessing whether to participate in the BOEM auction, prospective bidders will want to assess the opportunity offered by these two lease areas to ensure that they offer a reasonable prospect of competing successfully with the three existing leaseholders.   Specifically, these two lease areas will require a greater transmission investment.   However, the four Massachusetts WEAs were delineated to provide roughly equivalent water depths, and thus similar costs for foundations for the initial several hundred megawatts of capacity.  Offsetting the greater required transmission investment are greater wind speeds in WEAs 0502 and 0503.   Interestingly, the average wind speed in Lease Area 0502 is the highest of the four WEAs according to analysis performed by NREL.  More importantly, the lowest depths in Lease Areas 0502 and 0503 are associated with higher wind speeds. This suggests that these lease areas could have lower foundation costs and higher overall output levels. This combination could allow them to compete effectively with other leaseholders in the Massachusetts RFP even with higher transmission costs.  Figure 2 reviews the water depths of these lease areas and Figure 3 reviews the wind speeds of these different lease areas, relative to the cost of participating in the auction and the Power Advisory estimates.

Figure 2: Massachusetts Offshore Wind Speeds

Source: NREL

Figure 3: Massachusetts Offshore Water Depths

Source: NREL

BOEM has issued an Environmental Assessment of the entire Massachusetts WEA and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact.[4] Lease Areas 0502 and 0503 are also located over 20 miles from Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard reducing visibility of the turbines from shore which has been a significant obstacle to earlier proposed offshore wind farms such as Cape Wind off of Massachusetts.

To assess the potential economic value of the higher output offered by Lease Areas 0502 and 0503, we used the increased annual energy output estimated by NREL for each WEA for a 500 MW OSW project configuration and projected the incremental value of the WEA assuming a 20-year PPA term and a PPA price of $110/MWh.  The incremental value was considerably below the estimated incremental cost of transmission interconnection.  This suggests that additional cost savings from lower water depths would be required.

In sum, based on this high-level analysis Lease Areas 0502 and 0503 warrant more detailed analysis.  On October 4, 2017, the Director of the Office of Renewable Energy Programs for BOEM announced plans to issue the Proposed Sale Notice for these lease areas by the end of 2017 with the auction during the summer of 2018.

Power Advisory would welcome the opportunity to assist clients in assessing opportunities in the US offshore wind market, especially the upcoming BOEM Massachusetts and NY lease sale auctions, submission of comments on the 83C RFP, and participation in subsequent solicitations.

[1] See Power Advisory’s May 12, 2017 memo that reviewed past BOEM WEA leases.

[2] The most recent BOEM lease auction was for New York in December 2016. See  https://www.boem.gov/NY-FSN/.

[3] Power Advisory has assisted clients with complying with these requirements.

[4] The EA and FONSI are located here: https://www.boem.gov/Revised-MA-EA-2014/.

A PDF version of the report is available here.

U.S. Offshore Wind Current Progress and Cost Drivers

Though the offshore wind (OSW) industry in the United States has lagged behind Europe, given the   commitment by policymakers to support the development of the industry and allow the realization of economies achieved in Europe, future prospects for the industry appear bright. The purpose of this report is to summarize the short history of offshore wind in the United States, outline the current state of the industry, and then consider the cost drivers that will shape the industry in the future.

Figure 1: US Offshore Wind Value Proposition[1]

Industry History

One of the groundbreaking, albeit controversial landmarks in the U.S. offshore wind industry was the Cape Wind Project. Cape Wind submitted an application in 2001 to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to construct a met tower. Though the USACE gave Cape Wind permission to build a met tower, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 shifted Federal authority to the Department of the Interior, which slowed the project’s progress. For the next decade, Cape Wind faced numerous obstacles, including determinations that the planned site in the Nantucket Sound qualified as traditional cultural, historic and archaeological property. Cape Wind’s power purchase agreements provided a price of $187/MWh, escalating at 3.5% per annum for 15 years.  In January 2015, National Grid and Northeast Utilities notified Cape Wind that they were terminating their power purchase agreements (PPAs) given the project hadn’t achieved its financing and construction initiation milestones in the PPAs. Cape Wind was planned to total 468 MW, with these two PPAs covering about 75% of its capacity.

Avoiding many of the regulatory hurdles of its predecessor, but requiring legislative changes to the regulatory standard for approval of its PPA, Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) began construction in 2015, and became the US’s first operational offshore wind farm in December 2016. It is located 3 miles off of Block Island, in Rhode Island state waters. The project includes 5 turbines, capable of producing 30 MW. BIWF signed a 20-year PPA with National Grid for its full output, set at $244/MWh for the first year of commercial operation with an annual escalation of 3.5 %. One factor contributing to the project’s support is that it connects Block Island to the New England grid, allowing it to avoid high cost diesel generation that the island otherwise relied upon.

Current Developments

Leases for OSW have been issued in Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, and New York by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).[2]These states are leaders in promoting the development of an OSW industry, with the greatest activity in Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland.  Activities in each are reviewed below.

Figure 2: US Atlantic Offshore Wind Projects and Lease Areas[3]

*National Grid area represents electric cable from Block Island Wind Farm

The Massachusetts investor-owned electric distribution companies issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), seeking long-term contracts for 400 MW and up to 800 MW of OSW generation. Proposals are due December 20, 2017. This RFP is open to the three-existing wind energy area leaseholders: Deepwater Wind; Bay State Wind LLC (Dong Energy and Eversource); and, Vineyard Wind (Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables). This will be the first procurement in response to the state’s legislated goal to reach 1,600 MW of OSW development by 2027.

Because more than one party expressed interest in securing leases for the two remaining Massachusetts lease areas within the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area (WEAs), BOEM will hold a lease sale auction in late 2017 or early 2018. BOEM has yet to announce the specific auction date. These lease areas are adjacent to those that are expected to bid in the first Massachusetts RFP, though they are further from shore and have the greatest average water depths. The two lease areas to be auctioned are 248,015 acres and 140,554 acres, which can support a maximum of approximately 4,717 MW of OSW generation. Winners of these leases will be eligible to bid into the second auction for long term contracts in Massachusetts.

BOEM has also issued two leases off New Jersey, whose legislature has authorized the sale of 1100 MW of OSW to be purchased by the state’s electric distribution companies through Offshore Renewable Energy Credits (ORECs).  The NJ Board of Public Utilities has been developing the rules for these Ocean Renewable Energy Credits for several years.

Off the coast of Maryland and Delaware, two projects have recently been awarded ORECs in response to the state’s 2013 RFP for offshore wind. US Wind LLC has outlined a proposed 62 turbine, 248 MW wind farm, to be connected to the Indian River Substation in Delaware and operational in 2020. Skipjack Offshore Wind, a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind, has proposed a 15 turbine, 120 MW wind farm to be connected to the Ocean City, Maryland substation and operational in 2022. Maryland has issued unbundled ORECs to US Wind LLC and Deepwater Wind Skipjack. US Wind bid a first year OREC price of $201.57/MWh or a levelized price of $177.64/MWh (2012$) and Skipjack an OREC price of $166.0/MWh or a levelized price of $134.36/MWh (2012$).  A 1% price escalator will be applied to these first-year prices for the next 20 years of each project’s operation.[4]  In addition to the revenues from these ORECs, the projects will realize production tax credits and energy and capacity market revenues.  These energy and capacity market revenues are likely to represent a value of about $50/MWh.

Figure 3 summarizes US OSW PPA pricing to date by project vintage. Recent European PPA prices are also reported for reference.

Figure 3: US Offshore Wind PPA Pricing[5]

* Cape Wind PPAs terminated do to a failure to achieve financing and construction milestones.

**Average adjusted strike price and average capacity for 2023-2025 projects in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany from NREL 2017.

Already, there is some evidence of PPA price reductions in the US market.  However, trends are masked by varying competitiveness of RFP processes; in particular, the Maryland process where it appears that US Wind was able to capitalize on its position as the sole leaseholder in Maryland. Future reductions will be driven by the factors discussed in the next section.

Cost-Driver Analysis: 4 Main Drivers

  1. Site Evaluation and Characterization

While potential sites for offshore wind in the US share some characteristics with those of the more mature European market, there are major differences. Sites in the US lack critical data about geological, oceanographic, and meteorological conditions, which increases the initial development risks of OSW projects, and therefore the costs to finance them. With the development of additional projects and collection and verification of data the uncertainty associated with these variables and the impacts on project costs and performance would fall.

  1. Technological Advancement

Continuing research and development to produce larger, more cost-effective equipment (including wind turbine generators, which benefit from European experience, and foundations) will be necessary to further decrease costs. This applies to adapting and advancing existing technologies from Europe, developing new technologies, and creating new installation techniques.

Currently, 75% of the world’s deployed offshore wind resources use monopile fixed-bottom structures, which may not be feasible for water depths of greater than 60 meters. As more than 58% of the US’s technical resource capacity is located at water depths greater than 60 meters, many new projects will use lattice steel foundations installed at the Block Island Wind Farm and pioneered by the oil and gas industries and floating foundation technology anchored to the seabed with tension anchor chains. Floating foundation technology is just being constructed in Europe. Norwegian energy giant Statoil is scheduled to connect the first floating wind farm in late 2017 with their 30 MW Hywind farm[6], with 237 MW expected to be fully installed globally by 2020[7]. Currently, floating offshore wind accounts for 7% of the known global pipeline[8], making future developments in this area likely.

Higher capacity turbines offer significant reductions in OSW LCOEs. The Block Island Wind Farm utilized 6 MW WTGs, compared to current turbines produced in Europe that can produce upwards of 9 MW and 10 and 12 MW turbines in design. Capacity factors will also rise with larger rotor diameters and improved accessibility to turbines for maintenance, as this will decrease their downtime. Improved accessibility is an especially important consideration on the Pacific Coast, where ocean conditions are generally rougher than those on the Atlantic Coast.[9]

Technological developments will enable the integration of turbine and substructures to create a single system that will enable design optimization that will drive further cost reductions. Installation cost would also fall as more specialized vessels suited for installation are deployed in the US. Such vessels currently exist in Europe, but are not available in the US due to limited market that hasn’t justified the construction of such vessels. As turbines and rotors become larger, these vessels become more important.

As for operating expenses, cost reductions will occur with improvements in turbine reliability and monitoring technology that will allow operators to identify problems in real-time, keeping resources operating longer and at higher availabilities.

  1. Supply Chain Development

Not surprisingly, there are significant gaps in the current US OSW supply chain that prevent the realization of cost savings being achieved in Europe. Currently, the US supply chain is not well inventoried, and lacks necessary workforce, port facilities, and vessels needed to support a robust and efficient industry.

Geographic concentration of the supply chain would further reduce OSW costs, as proximity decreases transportation costs and fosters better communication between supply chain members. This “clustering” strategy also allows for more robust project management and top-to-bottom collaboration on wind energy projects[10].

Almost all of the OSW components, including rotors and turbines, are currently manufactured in Europe. Specialized equipment for installing offshore wind turbines, like installation vessels, are also often only available from European firms, resulting in high costs. Desired investments in the supply chain that will realize these cost savings will occur, if there is a visible, stable development pipeline.

4. Market Visibility

Market visibility is a commitment to the steady procurement of a pipeline of OSW projects over a defined period of time. Greater market visibility would reduce costs for OSW for two main reasons. First, more entrants will be attracted to the market, increasing competition and lowering their bargaining power. Second, as projects get relatively less risky, investors with a lower hurdle rate may be drawn to invest when they had not previously. A visible pipeline of projects can reduce capital, maintenance, and insurance costs and is critical to ensuring that these costs are minimized.  Construction of turbine manufacturing facilities on European coastlines have reduced the levelized cost of OSW below $100/MWh. The lack of certainty around the US PTC and how this frustrated the development of US onshore wind energy supply chain is a relevant warning. Per the 2015 extension of the PTC it is to be phased on it steps by 2020, so that the value in 2017 is 80% of the initial $0.023/kWh value, 60% in 2018 and 40% in 2019. Also, by generating repeated investments from equity investors with knowledge of the renewable energy sector, WACC could be lowered, reducing the cost of equity and debt.

Conclusion

Though the U.S. OSW market has taken longer to develop than its European counterpart, its future prospects are promising.  The comparatively high OSW costs in the U.S. reflect the immaturity of the industry; however, by adopting best practices from Europe and committing long-term to OSW development, the U.S. can drive costs down significantly. Coupled with future technological innovation, the U.S. OSW industry is well-positioned to represent a cost-effective source of clean energy.

Power Advisory would welcome the opportunity to assist clients in assessing opportunities in the US offshore wind market, especially the upcoming BOEM Massachusetts and NY lease sale auctions, submission of comments on the 83C RFP, and participation in subsequent solicitations.

A PDF version of this report is available here.

[1] US Department of Energy and Department of the Interior, National Offshore Wind Strategy, 2016

[2] Norton Rose Fulbright, US Offshore Wind, 2017

[3] BOEM 2016

[4] US Department of Energy: Offshore Wind Technologies Market Report, 2016

[5] Power Advisory analysis of various public orders and studies. Size of marker represents the relative nameplate capacity

[6] Statoil: Hywind Scotland

[7] Bloomberg: Race to Build Offshore Wind Farms That Float on Sea Gathers Pace, 2017

[8] NREL: Offshore Wind Energy Resource Assessment for the United States, 2016

[9] US Department of Energy and Department of the Interior, National Offshore Wind Strategy, 2016

[10] Clean Energy Pipeline, Offshore Wind Project Cost Outlook, 2014

European Offshore Wind Cost Reductions & Implications For North America

The cumulative capacity of global offshore wind (OSW) has grown at a dramatic rate in recent years, increasing by 25-40% annually since 2011. Due to increasing industry maturity and the development of a specialized supply chain to support the industry, realization of economies of scale, and other factors, the levelized cost of energy from OSW has decreased significantly, which is an encouraging sign for development of this industry in North America.

This report illustrates how European OSW projects have realized dramatic cost reductions, and how the emerging US OSW industry can benefit from this experience. The European OSW industry started over twenty years ago, and currently has over 12,000 MW in commercial operation, while the US only installed its first 30 MW project late last year. With an installed fleet of 3,589 OSW turbines and larger turbines being offered by OSW turbine manufacturers, European projects are offering prices, before consideration of transmission costs, that are competitive with forecast wholesale market prices, promising a market that is sustainable and not dependent on government policy support.

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Q4 Market Report: Pendulum Swinging to Markets – Will Ontario Get it Right?

Power Advisory LLC Q4 Ontario Market Report now available.

Over the past few months, there has been much concern (and justifiably so) over rising electricity costs to Ontario’s customers. In part due to this concern, the Ontario Government suspended the Large Renewable Procurement and just announced cancellation of the last round of procurements under the Feed-in Tariff Program. Clearly, there is now heightened awareness to cut costs within Ontario’s electricity sector.

We believe these cost issues are pushing the Ontario Government to find avenues towards potential resolutions, and one of these avenues is the Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO’s) Market Renewal Initiative. This is evident based on the Ministry of Energy’s remarks at the Association of Power Producers of Ontario’s annual banquet on November 15, 2016 and then at the November 28, 2016 Empire Club of Canada luncheon.

While Ontario’s wholesale electricity market should evolve through the Market Renewal Initiative, many Ontario-specific conditions and factors must be taken into account. First, Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan will serve as a foundation within the forthcoming Ontario Government’s revised Long- Term Energy Plan which will set electricity policy. Therefore, evolution of Ontario’s wholesale  electricity market must result in outcomes to meet policy objectives. Second, Ontario’s supply mix is heavily ‘baseloaded’ with a very high concentration of non-emitting resources with high fixed costs and low marginal costs. We believe this supply mix will pose unique challenges to evolve Ontario’s wholesale market design, and therefore somewhat limiting application of some components of the U.S. wholesale market designs. Because of these challenges, any wrong turns in the evolution of Ontario’s wholesale market could actually result in higher costs to Ontario’s electricity ratepayers – so let’s take the time to get it right!