Politics in US Offshore Wind


October 14, 2011

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All energy is political. It’s unavoidable. It’s a subject that gets industry eyes rolling in Europe, the US and Asia and yet it simply can’t be ignored.

Politics impacts on consent and permitting, future policy and regulation and of course on subsidies, tax credits, financing and funding. More broadly, it’s the primary driver for getting a nascent energy market off the ground.

So why then, is there such hesitance for both public and private institutions to work together?

As the wind energy market battles with the fall out of an embattled global economy, it’s the private sector that once again feels that it’s doing the leg work, as politicians across the board press industry executives to win contracts, hire staff and expand.

And for the wind energy market of course, it’s something that, given the right backing and support, they are only too willing to achieve.

Out in Baltimore this week, it’s interesting to register a very real sense of frustration in the air, as the political debate continues to delay the much-anticipated US offshore market.

To date, the US has yet to set a turbine spinning in the Atlantic. This, when combined with European projects competing for ever cheaper capital, it’s no surprise that even the American financial markets are looking to Europe – and not to their domestic market – when it comes to experimenting with offshore project finance.

As the UK and German markets know only too well – it’s only through the development and implementation of a stable public policy that the offshore wind market can truly thrive.

In this regard, Europe still has many lessons to learn. However, if we share our experiences with our North American cousins – particularly during this most frustrating of times – then we all stand to gain. Indeed some argue that the success of the US offshore market depends on it. Particularly if we are to achieve wider cost efficiencies, an established support services industry that can scale.

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