Phased Approaches to Offshore Wind Developments and Use of the Project Design Envelope

Phased Approaches to Offshore Wind Developments and Use of the Project Design Envelope
Photo of Block Island Wind Farm construction in August 2016 taken as part of the Real-time Opportunity for Development Environmental Observations (RODEO) study by HDR Engineering staff.

RPS Ocean Science in Rhode Island and RPS Energy in the UK teamed together to complete a one-year study for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on behalf of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) investigating how phased approaches to offshore wind development and the use of the Project Design Envelope (PDE) could be applied to offshore wind developments in the U.S.

The objective was to utilize lessons learned from phased approaches in the U.K., examine the current approach to phased development within the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, and make recommendations as to how such approaches might be adopted by the U.S. offshore wind sector and by BOEM in their permitting process.

The main elements of the study included:

A review of selected offshore wind case studies to examine different approaches to phased development in the U.K. including the overall approach taken, the project design envelope presented and an analysis of the risk and benefits of each approach;

A review of the ‘Survey, Deploy and Monitor’ (SDM) policy developed to support the consenting of marine renewables projects in Scotland and its applicability to offshore wind;

A review and comparison of U.K. and U.S. offshore wind regulations and permitting processes;

An examination of the current approaches to phased development in the U.S., and

Three briefing notes summarizing the results of the initial research and a technical report summarizing the final findings and making recommendations on the implementation of phased approaches in NEPA documents, particularly the COP.

The study also included two workshops, including a full day workshop held at the BOEM offices in Sterling, VA and attended by both Jill Rowe (RPS Ocean Science) and Adam Payne (RPS Energy) and a webinar hosted by RPS. Jill Rowe and Adam Payne also attended the final meeting to present the results of the study. The workshops and final meeting were well attended by BOEM staff from a number of different departments.

The results of the study were used to inform a Department of Interior (DOI) action to evaluate a “Design Envelope” Approach under the National Offshore Wind Strategy. The study report is now published on the BOEM website at https://www.boem.gov/Phased-Approaches-to-Offshore-Wind-Developments-and-Use-of-Project-Design-Envelope/.

The project has provided a great opportunity for RPS offices in the US and the UK to combine and provide advice to government on the ongoing development of the emerging US offshore wind sector.