Three bidders win leases for over 4 GW offshore wind projects in the USA

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Three bidders win leases for over 4 GW offshore wind projects in the USA

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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) of the US government has announced the completion of the nation’s eighth and highest grossing competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters.

The lease sale offered approximately 390,000 acres offshore Massachusetts, located in the north-east, for potential wind energy development and drew competitive winning bids from three companies totaling approximately US$405 million.

Equinor submitted a winning bid of US$135 million for a 128,811-acre area, while Vineyard Wind, a 50:50 joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and Avangrid Renewables, was declared a provisional winner with its US$135.1 million bid for a 132,370-acre area.

The remaining provisional winner is Mayflower Wind Energy LLC, a 50:50 joint venture between EDPR Offshore North America LLC and Shell New Energies US LLC. The company bid US$135 million to lease 127,388 acres of federal waters.

If fully developed, the three areas combined could support approximately 4.1 GW of commercial wind generation, enough electricity to power nearly 1.5 million homes.

EDPR has announced that Mayflower will begin working to complete a site assessment plan and initiate formal development efforts on its site shortly. It is thought that the company's lease area could accommodate a total generation capacity of approximately 1.6 GW. Subject to a positive final investment decision, the wind farm could enter into operation by the mid-2020s.

Neither Equinor or Vineyard Wind has announced next steps. However, subject to the lease auction passing an anti-competitiveness review by the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, the lessees must submit Site Assessment Plans (SAPs) within one year.

The SAPs will describe the facilities that the lessees plan to install or deploy for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease area, such as meteorological towers and buoys.

Following approval of the SAPs, the lessees will then have four and a half years to submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to BOEM for approval. This plan will provide a detailed proposal for the construction and operation of the proposed wind energy project within the lease areas.

Once BOEM receives the COPs, it will conduct an environmental review of the proposed projects and reasonable alternatives. If the COPs are approved, the lessees will then have 33 years to construct and operate the projects.

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