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United States | Wind more coveted than oil



US government bids to build offshore wind turbines off New York and New Jersey have attracted global industry giants and brought in an unexpected $4.37 billion. This is more than the concessions offered for the development of the oil and gas sectors.

The Caisse de depot et placement du Québec, with Invenergy, an American company of which it is the main shareholder, successfully participated in these historic auctions. Their consortium obtained for the sum of 645 million US a concession of 83,976 acres of seabed to install wind turbines.

Five other concessions were awarded following the auction, which took place over three days last week, for a total area of ​​488,201 acres which will be devoted to offshore wind turbines.

In a sign of the interest in the development of wind power in the United States, the auctions yielded more than the most recent calls for tenders by the American government for oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.

It is a joint venture formed by the German giant RWE and the British company National Grid which obtained the largest of these concessions, ie 125,964 acres, for 1.1 billion US.

Other giants in the wind sector have also obtained concessions, such as Shell, Engie and EDF. The consortium formed by the Caisse, Invenergy, energyRe and other partners was the only American bidder at the auction.

Invenergy, a Chicago-based company in which the Caisse holds the majority of shares, will act as lead developer of the project. The Caisse will participate in the financing of the project, with other investors such as Blackstone, FirstLight Power and the Ullico Infrastructure fund.

Quebec on the lookout

The Biden administration’s decision to open the seabed off New York and New Jersey to wind development is generating a lot of interest on this side of the border, where Quebec companies have already positioned themselves to take advantage of it. left.

This is the case of Technostrobe, designer of beacons for wind turbines, and Marmen, which manufactures wind turbine towers. The two companies moved to Albany, New York, to take advantage of state and federal renewable energy targets that want to prioritize local businesses.


Factory of the Marmen company, which manufactures wind towers, in Matane

“These are projects that will take time to develop,” said Guillaume Angers, Marmen’s business development director, on Monday about the rest of the auction.

The company from Trois-Rivières moved to Albany to take advantage of development opportunities in New York State. It is now well placed to participate in projects resulting from federal government auctions.

Marmen could work with all the companies that won concessions during these auctions, according to Guillaume Angers. Most aim for the commissioning of wind farms in 2028, he specifies.

Opposition to be expected

Offshore wind development is lagging behind in the United States, where only two projects have been completed so far.

The Biden administration is targeting the installation of 30 gigawatts of wind generation by 2030 off the US coast. Other auctions will be held in the coming years to achieve this goal.

The price paid by the bidders is higher than expected, which demonstrates the interest of the developers and pleases the American federal government. But these investments will have to be profitable, which also raises concerns about the price that this energy will cost for consumers.

Opposition to these mega offshore wind farms has already begun to surface. Local residents are worried about the visual appearance of wind turbine towers, and fishermen fear for the future of the resource. Environmentalists also express reservations about the impact of the construction of these giant wind turbines, as high as an 80-storey building, between Cape May Point, New Jersey, and Long Island, New York.

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