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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the White House have made offshore wind a centerpiece of plans to strengthen the nation’s energy infrastructure, announcing a goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 — a huge leap from the 42 megawatts (MW) currently in operation. Not only could this provide enough electricity to power 10 million American homes and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 78 million metric tons, it could also support as many as 77,000 new jobs.

The success of this initiative will rely, in large part, on partnerships to accelerate research and development (R&D) and establish new offshore systems in such an ambitious time frame. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is certain to be at the center of many of these efforts, contributing expertise in research related to offshore wind as well as building coalitions.

NREL has a long, successful track record of collaboration with partners in industry, agencies at all levels of government, and the research community. Offshore wind project partnerships have given NREL the insight needed to develop innovations that solve real-world problems and become the recognized standards for industry. For example, 80% of all prototypes for offshore wind floating platforms have been designed with the help of NREL open-source analysis tools — which NREL created through collaboration with laboratory partners.

With recent announcements of a national goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and the go-ahead to install the first commercial-scale U.S. offshore wind project, NREL and its partners are poised to help meet this ambitious target. Semisubmersible offshore wind platforms accounted for 89% of substructures in floating wind projects either installed or announced in 2019. Other projects may use spar or tension-leg platform substructures. Graphics by Josh Bauer, NREL

NREL’s partners have helped the laboratory build a broad, in-depth understanding of the unique challenges of offshore environments. Offshore wind’s remote locations, deep waters, and extreme weather and ocean conditions present additional design, installation, and operation hurdles in the form of efficiency, cost, and durability.

Offshore wind collaborations bring together the research expertise of NREL staff with the know-how of industry partners, the policymaking perspective of government agencies, and additional support from other laboratories and universities. Researchers work with partners to characterize wind resourcesoptimize plants and turbinesanalyze techno-economic and market factors, and assess potential environmental impacts.

In particular, partners rely on NREL’s pioneering research to boost the performance and market viability of floating platform technologies needed to capture energy in the deepwater locations that account for nearly 60% of U.S. offshore wind resources. The laboratory’s researchers have most recently turned their attention to the integration of offshore wind energy with land-based utility systems to increase grid reliability, resilience, and efficiency.

Transmission of offshore wind energy relies on equipment such as undersea cables to carry power back to the mainland.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, more than $10 million in funding for NREL offshore wind research projects came from partnerships with industry. The NREL team is working with more than 45 commercial, government, and research organizations on offshore, land-based, and distributed wind research projects in 2021.

This reflects the overall success of the laboratory in cultivating partnerships. Over the last 12 years, NREL has brought in $1 billion in partnership contracts, with more than 900 active partnership agreements and close to 600 unique partners in FY 2020.

With the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind development recently cleared for installation by the U.S. Department of the Interior off the coast of Massachusetts, the NREL offshore wind team hopes to engage with new partners to grow its collaborative base and make even more meaningful contributions to this burgeoning industry in the coming years.

Giving Industry the Tools To Compete

Industry partners know they can bank on the intellectual capital of experienced NREL researchers to develop and refine breakthrough offshore wind technologies and provide the balanced, market-savvy guidance needed for successful deployment. In addition, NREL offers industry partners hands-on research collaboration, technical assistance, deployment guidance, research facility use, and technology licensing.

“Collaboration with industry is key to making sure our R&D addresses real-world issues and priorities, while helping transfer scientific knowledge from the lab to the marketplace,” said NREL Principal Engineer Jeroen van Dam. “We’re giving offshore developers the tools to establish market parity — and giving the United States resources to join the field of international players.”

Through collaborations with the primary offshore wind regulators — the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement — and in coordination with the Business Network for Offshore Wind and the American Clean Power Association trade organizations, NREL is helping lead the development of industry standards that will define the requirements for utility-scale deployment of offshore wind in the United States. The team also works with individual companies — from startups to established corporations — including system operators, developers, original equipment manufacturers, energy suppliers, and investors. Scores of U.S. companies are currently involved in building, running, or supporting supply chains related to offshore systems.

The laboratory provides a credible source for objective expertise and validated data, bolstering rather than competing with industry efforts. NREL research focuses on early-stage technologies, where industry investments tend to be lean, while also targeting R&D priorities with potential for future commercialization. This has included collaboration on tools needed for industry to eventually develop larger, more powerful turbines and optimize system performance, efficiency, reliability, and affordability.

NREL takes broader economic factors into consideration when assessing the potential impact of offshore wind research and development. Offshore wind could trigger more than $12 billion per year in U.S. capital investment in offshore wind projects and spur significant activity and growth for ports, factories, and construction.

NREL also takes bigger economic factors into consideration when assessing the potential impact of offshore wind research and development. Eventually, it is estimated that offshore wind could trigger more than $12 billion per year in U.S. capital investment and spur significant activity and growth for ports, factories, and construction operations.

NREL analysts help developers and other industry partners gain crucial, unbiased understanding of the balance among potential offshore wind costs, revenues, and risks within the broader context of technical, legal, regulatory, tax, and policy issues. NREL market reports provide the data needed to support decision-making, including information critical to building the skilled workforce necessary for industry growth.

Building Coalitions To Spur Innovation

NREL has provided ongoing leadership to forge collaborative partnerships that bring together top minds from a range of sectors to form a virtual think tank of offshore wind research experts. In this convening role, NREL acts as a catalyst for exchanging information, tackling large research projects, and providing industry and policy decision makers with the body of scientific knowledge needed to champion new approaches.

NREL’s Walt Musial and Brent Rice join partners to tour the world’s first floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Peterhead, Scotland. Photo by Brent Rice, NREL

A major component of the newly announced U.S. offshore wind initiative announced by the White House calls on the National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium (NOWRDC) to refine the technology needed for deployment at a scale previously unprecedented in this country. The NOWRDC, which is managed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) with contributions from four other states plus DOE, benefits from the technical direction of NREL Offshore Wind Platform Lead Walt Musial, as well as the laboratory’s regular representation on the NOWRDC R&D Advisory Group and leadership of several projects.

“The developers and states really set the pace,” Musial said. “They’re ultimately the ones who will be responsible for rolling out and operating new offshore systems. Our job is to arm them with the information they need to maximize clean energy production in ways that will work best to help them achieve the lowest cost for their project.”

The laboratory’s involvement in coalition efforts reaches across the country and around the globe. Many International Energy Agency Wind Technology Collaboration Programme (IEA Wind) research tasks, which engage academia and industry across three continents, are led by NREL research staff. This includes development of a 15-MW reference turbine in partnership with IEA Wind and DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office to help design larger, more powerful, next-generation turbines.

NREL’s global and national partnerships are helping design larger, more powerful, next-generation offshore wind technologies, such as the IEA Wind 15-MW reference turbine.

NREL has a long, successful history of partnerships with international and U.S. universities and research institutions, including other national laboratories. The laboratory’s university affiliations encompass professors collaborating on NREL projects, NREL researchers advising graduate students, and projects supported by university funding. Consortia comprising multiple institutions and larger collaborations that involve several different agencies, universities, labs, and private-sector partners bring a range of perspectives to offshore wind solutions.

Collaborative efforts helmed by other U.S. government agencies, including DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), also rely on NREL research expertise. For example, ARPA-E has funded the Aerodynamic Turbines Lighter and Afloat with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program to develop new floating offshore wind turbines by tightly integrating control systems and design. NREL leads three ATLANTIS projects, working with one other national laboratory, four universities, and four industry partners.

Tapping One-of-a-Kind Offshore Wind Expertise

So, why do all of these organizations choose to partner with NREL on offshore wind research projects?

Certain collaborative undertakings rely on NREL’s high-performance Eagle supercomputer and world-class Flatirons Campus research facilities to put innovative offshore wind technologies and strategies through their paces. NREL software tools make it possible for researchers and partners to build models and simulate performance based on the laboratory’s formidable collections of data.

But NREL also offers one-of-a-kind expertise from its staff of 150 wind energy scientists, engineers, and analysts, many of whom contribute their multidisciplinary knowledge to offshore projects. With numerous cumulative decades of research experience, the team is able to tap a deep base of knowledge specific to offshore wind, as well as wider-reaching input from experts in related disciplines such as land-based wind power, other areas of clean energy generation, transmission, and integration. This cross-cutting approach has recently led scientists to uncover new efficiencies for converting wind energy to hydrogen that can be readily stored and used for a range of applications.

In surveys, multiple partners have given NREL high marks for its collaborative approach, distinct technical capabilities, and strong understanding of current needs and priorities.

“If we want the nation’s ambitious vision for offshore wind to become reality, we all need to pull together,” Musial said.

“These partnerships with industry, universities, other labs, and government agencies are crucial to developing the right technology, installing it at the right locations, and connecting it to the grid so that we can maximize offshore’s contribution to the country’s affordable clean energy mix.”

Article courtesy of the NREL, the U.S. Department of Energy.


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IEA downgrades oil demand growth forecast as prices heat up on elevated Middle East tensions

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IEA downgrades oil demand growth forecast as prices heat up on elevated Middle East tensions

An oil pumpjack is shown near the Callon Petroleum vicinity on March 27, 2024 in Monahans, Texas. 

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

The International Energy Agency on Friday downgraded its forecast for 2024 oil demand growth, citing “exceptionally weak” OECD deliveries, a largely complete post-Covid-19 rebound and an expanding electric vehicle fleet.

In its latest monthly oil market report, the IEA said it had revised down its 2024 oil demand growth forecast by around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 1.2 million bpd.

The global energy watchdog said that it expected the pace of expansion to decelerate even further to 1.1 million bpd next year “as the post-Covid 19 rebound has run its course.”

The IEA’s report comes amid a rebound in oil prices on elevated Middle East tensions, with energy market participants closely monitoring the prospect of supply disruptions from the oil-producing region.

Iran, which is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has vowed to retaliate after it accused Israel of bombing its embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus earlier this month.

The attack has ratcheted up tensions in a region already grappling with the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

International benchmark Brent crude futures with June delivery traded 0.8% higher at $90.45 per barrel on Friday at 9:30 a.m. in London, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures with May delivery rose nearly 1% to trade at $85.84 per barrel.

“We’re seeing the surge in [electric vehicle] sales, especially in China and also in Europe, really taking into gasoline demand, but also in the United States,” Toril Bosoni, head of oil industry and markets division at the IEA, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” on Friday.

“There has been a lot of talk about sales not increasing as much as maybe was expected, but EV sales and increased fuel efficiencies in the car fleet is lowering gasoline demand, at least in advanced economies and particularly in China.”

Asked about some of the main concerns relating to oil supply security, Bosoni replied, “We are watching, obviously, the Middle East very closely. The continued tanker attacks in the Red Sea is of key concern, but also escalating tensions between Iran and Israel, and then we’re seeing tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue, with attacks on Russian refineries.”

“So, there are several tension points in the oil market today that we’re watching very closely that could have major impacts … if there would be any significant outages,” she added.

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Tesla unveils new Sport Seats to absorb Model S Plaid’s insane power

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Tesla unveils new Sport Seats to absorb Model S Plaid's insane power

Tesla has unveiled new Sport Seats for the Model S Plaid to absorb the electric supercar’s insane power better.

While it’s in the form of a family sedan, the Model S Plaid could easily pass as an electric supercar with its 1.99-second 0 to 60 mph acceleration.

That’s more power than anyone would need, but it is fun.

Some Model S Plaid owners even like to take the fun to the racetrack. When cornering, you can really feel the Gs on the racetrack.

Tesla’s Model S seats are comfortable, but they are not designed for super-spirited driving, which the rest of the vehicle enables.

Today, Tesla decided to address the issue with the release of new Sports Seats:

They obviously feature much more pronounced side support. Here are the main features of the seats:

  • Increased lateral support
  • Modular seat architecture for comfort & support, plus same 12-way power adjust, heating & ventilation
  • High performance suede for increased grip & reduced weight

Here’s another look at the new seats:

The seats are now standard for the $90,000 Model S Plaid and included on all cars built since the beginning of the month.

Electrek’s Take

We had known new sports seats were coming to the new Model 3 Performance, which is expected to be unveiled any day, but it makes sense that the Model S Plaid would get them first.

The vehicle’s level of performance deserves sports seats.

I am surprised that Tesla is making it standard rather than a paid option, but we’ll take it.

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Daily EV Recap: China looks to export EVs by the hundreds of thousands

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Listen to a recap of the top stories of the day from Electrek. Quick Charge is now available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneIn and our RSS feed for Overcast and other podcast players.

New episodes of Quick Charge are recorded Monday through Thursday and again on Saturday. Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcast or your favorite podcast player to guarantee new episodes are delivered as soon as they’re available.

Stories we discuss in this episode (with links):

Formula E again delays debut of 600kW mid-race charging

This lamppost EV charger just went commercial in the US

Tesla releases more details on Powerwall 3, confirms cheaper stack coming

Electric cars are saving Americans billions — even people who don’t drive them

China is exporting so many EVs that it needs more ships – a lot more

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