3 min read

Apr 18, 2024

by Invenergy

Apr 18, 2024

power lines

U.S. offshore wind development welcomes gusts of opportunity

by Invenergy

Offshore wind development in the United States is at an inflection point. While there are already established markets for offshore wind projects in Europe and Asia, development of U.S. projects is still in its early stages.
Like any emerging industry, it has taken time for the business, policy and regulatory conditions to align for offshore wind. Now, Daniel Runyan, Invenergy’s senior vice president of offshore wind development, sees opportunity for the U.S. offshore wind market to flourish.
Runyan first honed his clean energy experience developing onshore wind projects in North America, where he was involved in many project development activities including siting and permitting, project design and engineering, environmental studies, regulatory processes, transmission and interconnection, public affairs and more.
After more than 15 years in the power industry, including eight years in the North American wind industry, Runyan moved overseas for five years to focus on offshore wind development in Japan, where he helped develop one of the country’s largest offshore wind facilities. Following his time in Japan, he also led development of offshore wind projects from The Netherlands.
Now back Stateside, Runyan is responsible for leading the responsible development, engineering and construction of Invenergy’s offshore wind portfolio, including our Leading Light Wind and Even Keel Wind projects currently in development.
Runyan discusses the state of offshore wind development in the United States, Invenergy’s approach to responsible offshore wind development, and the important role offshore wind can play in the broader clean energy transition.
How would you characterize the state of offshore wind development in the U.S. today?
DR: The past couple of years have not been without challenges for offshore wind in the U.S. It’s a relatively new industry in America, so developers, states, and utilities have gone through learning curves to better manage supply chains and inflation headwinds. This includes structuring power purchase agreements (PPA) to accommodate the longer development timelines offshore wind projects require. I would say those headwinds are starting to soften. Invenergy struck its PPA for Leading Light Wind at a good time. We were able to factor in some lessons learned from earlier development efforts, and we are confident in our ability to responsibly deliver this project for the state of New Jersey, and I expect the same for Even Keel Wind and our work in California.
Does the U.S. face unique challenges compared to other offshore wind markets?
DR: Europe is definitely further along in its offshore wind journey. They entered this market about 10 years ago, and they have built up a supply chain that can support the industry. Right now, U.S. companies are building out the infrastructure, like offshore installation vessels, to support the industry here. And knowledge in the industry is growing globally, so we can learn from that. I’ve built projects in Japan that also had to go through this supply chain and development learning curve.
What opportunities do you see for U.S. offshore wind?
DR: Offshore wind has the potential to be a leading energy generation source in the U.S. Offshore wind resources are abundant, and these projects will deliver energy to populations on the East and West Coasts, where it can be more difficult to build other energy generations sources because of denser population centers and more complicated permitting processes. Being able to build far off the coasts but still deliver gigawatts of power to urban areas with increasing energy demands is a great opportunity.
How would you describe Invenergy’s approach to offshore wind development?
DR: We want to build relationships with the communities where we’re developing projects. We’re going to be in those communities for decades. We make sure to hire locally and that the communities we’re involved in will benefit from these projects. Our projects will create thousands of jobs and generate billions in economic benefits throughout their development, construction and operations.
Invenergy is unique because we are currently the only American-led company developing a multi-project portfolio across U.S. coasts with our Leading Light Wind and Even Keel Wind projects. Our decades of experience developing onshore wind projects has given us the knowledge to permit projects efficiently, work with labor and contractors, build according to U.S. policies and regulations, and we are translating this expertise to our offshore projects.
Offshore wind turbines can have either fixed or floating foundations. Could you discuss the difference between fixed and floating turbines and when each is used?
DR: The main difference between a fixed offshore wind turbine and a floating offshore wind turbine is that a fixed turbine’s foundation is secured to the ocean floor, and a floating turbine’s foundation is suspended beneath the surface of the water on a floating platform and anchored to the ocean floor with mooring lines.
Fixed offshore wind turbines are used in water depths up to about 50 or 60 meters. If you start getting deeper than that, you start looking at floating turbines because it’s more cost efficient to use them in deep waters. Although floating turbine technology is relatively new to the offshore wind industry globally, there are commercially proven projects located in Europe. As the technology and design of these turbines continue to advance, the energy cost per megawatt hour will continue to drop. These turbines provide an excellent opportunity to build projects further offshore where there are some very strong winds.
How does Invenergy develop offshore wind farms in an environmentally responsible way?
DR: No matter the technology, Invenergy always takes an environmentally responsible approach to developing our clean energy projects. We plan for environmental considerations from the beginning of development, fund leading-edge environmental research for the industry, and work with government agencies to conduct environmental studies using industry best practices. This continues throughout the construction and operations of our projects.
For example, as part of the development of our Leading Light Wind offshore project, we recently launched a glider, which is an underwater vehicle, off the coast of New Jersey to study the waters in and around our lease area. During its monthlong mission, the glider shared real-time data about the marine life living in that area. Using that data, we can plan the development, construction and operations of the project to ensure our projects responsibly coexist in a marine environment.
What role do you see offshore wind playing in the broader clean energy future?
DR: We’re transitioning to a more renewables-powered world. In the U.S., onshore wind, solar, and now offshore wind energy are going to become an even larger part of the domestic energy mix. Offshore wind will contribute to more reliable energy, lower pollution, improve public health and, over time, lower costs in our electric bills.
What is your vision for Invenergy’s offshore wind portfolio over the next 10 to 15 years?
DR: We will get our Leading Light Wind and Even Keel Wind projects to their commercial operations dates and continue to pursue new development opportunities both in the U.S. and internationally. As we grow our portfolio and the industry matures, I am excited to continue to bring the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind to the communities we will serve.

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