December 14 (Renewables Now) - The US federal government is offering three ocean areas totalling 390,000 acres (157,800 ha) off Massachusetts in an offshore wind lease auction that sparked unprecedented interest on Thursday and continues today.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) yesterday started the auction for the areas south of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. They could accommodate about 4.1 GW of capacity to supply nearly 1.5 million homes, if fully developed.
According to the Department of Interior’s (DOI’s) website, at 1800 local time on Thursday, the end of the bidding window for the day, and after 24 rounds of bidding, the proposals for the three areas had reached USD 285 million (EUR 251.2m). This is more than six times the amount offered by Norewegian group Equinor ASA's (NYSE:EQNR) record-smashing bid of USD 42.47 million at end-2016 for the right to build a wind farm off New York.
"Wow! We are shattering records today! This should send a strong message to BOEM & Interior that offshore wind producers need reliable and regularly scheduled offshore wind sales," the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) tweeted Thursday even before the final round had been reached.
A total of 19 companies had qualified to take part in the competitive process, including Avangrid Renewables LLC, Deepwater Wind, Deepwater Wind New England, PNE Wind, Vineyard Wind and Equinor Wind US. Bidding will resume soon today and conclude today.
BOEM has so far awarded 13 commercial offshore wind leases, while the US presently has just one operating offshore wind farm -- the 30-MW Block Island park off Rhode Island that entered into service in December 2016.
(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.881)