The latest offshore wind lease auction in the US attracted upwards of $4 billion in winning bids for six blocks in the New York Bight, which National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) president Erik Milito hailed as a “watershed moment” for the nation’s offshore wind industry.

The six lease blocks located offshore New York and New Jersey attracted $4.37 billion in winning bids.

“The record-shattering interest in the New York Bight lease sale is testament to how bright the American offshore wind outlook is and how confident developers are in the strength of the US offshore wind industry as a whole,” said Milito.

“Companies continue to invest and innovate, and the regulatory regime has a firm foundation.”

Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight — a 50:50 joint venture between Shell and EdF — is the provisional winner for Block OCS-A 0541 in the New York Bight offshore wind auction. This area, subject to a future investment decision, could support approximately 1.5 gigawatts of commercial wind generation, sufficient to power nearly 700,000 New York and New Jersey homes.

"This win considerably expands Shell's offshore wind renewable power generation capacity in the United States," said Wael Sawan, Shell’s integrated gas and renewables & energy solutions director.

"By growing our portfolio and deepening our power synergies in the New York and New Jersey markets, we will help scale our own low-carbon ambitions while providing cleaner energy options the world needs."

Atlantic Shores stumped up $780 million for its winning bid, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The five other provisional winners were: Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind, which bid $285 million for Block OCS-A 0544; OW Ocean Winds East, which paid $765 million for Block OCS-A 0537; Attentive Energy that picked up Block OCS-A 0538 for $795 million; Bight Wind that placed the lease sale's record bid of $1.1 billion to secure Block OCS-A 0539; and Invenergy Wind Offshore, which secured Block OCS-A 0542 for $645 million.

Bight Wind — a joint venture between RWE and National Grid — claimed its lease holds the potential for around 3 GW capacity, enough to power 1.1 million US homes. This project is expected to be in operation by 2030.

“Winning a lease in the New York auction is a significant move for us as it marks RWE’s entry into the US offshore wind market, one of our key strategic markets,” said Sven Utermohlen, chief executive offshore wind at RWE Renewables.

“Our success in this auction means an important step on the road to tripling our offshore wind capacity to 8 GW by 2030, as part of our ‘Growing Green’ growth and investment programme. Now we’re looking forward to developing our first offshore wind project in the US and to contribute to the region’s offshore build-out targets.”

French supermajor TotalEnergies on Monday revealed that after Attentive was awarded Block OCS-A 0538, its joint venture partner EnBW informed it of its strategic decision to refocus its activity in Europe.

The two companies agreed that TotalEnergies would acquire EnBW’s interest in the New York Bight concession, and will welcome EnBW’s North American staff within its team.

Located up to 47 nautical miles (87 kilometres) from the coast, Block OCS-A 0538 covers 132 square miles (341 square kilometres) — an area that could accommodate a generation capacity of at least 3 GW, enough to provide power to about 1 million homes. The project is expected to come into operation by 2028.

In addition, TotalEnergies will acquire from EnBW the predevelopment work undertaken for the upcoming auction off the coast of Central California (Castle Wind project).

“This grand entrance into offshore wind in the US is a major step toward our goal of reaching 100 GW of renewable electricity generation capacity worldwide by 2030. This development adds another dimension to our renewable business in the US, currently representing 4 GW of solar farms under development," said TotalEnergies chief executive Patrick Pouyanne.

"This is the largest renewable energy project TotalEnergies has ever undertaken and we now have a portfolio of over 10 GW of offshore wind projects, a technology in which we aim to be a world leader by leveraging our offshore expertise."

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Milito added that thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of investment are now on the horizon for New York, New Jersey and the entire US supply chain as a result of this lease sale.

The US today already has an offshore wind substation and a wind installation vessel being built in Texas, an offshore wind service operation vessel being constructed in Louisiana and transmission cables being manufactured in North Carolina and South Carolina, he noted.

“In many ways, the New York Bight lease sale is just the kick-off for a busy 2022 for American offshore wind. We applaud the work done thus far by (the Department of the Interior) and BOEM and say, ‘Well done and keep up the momentum’,” said Milito.

“We can clearly see the demand for more leasing, and we encourage (US President Joe B Biden’s) Administration to sustain progress through continued lease sales and project approvals. Congress can — and should — play a positive role through expansion of key tax credits that will help incentivise projects from the leasing stage through operations.”

The New York Bight offshore lease sale that comprised more than 488,000 acres was the largest such auction to date in the US and the first held by the Biden administration as part of its ambitious plan to accelerate the deployment of offshore wind resources.