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USA - The US Has Been Quietly Preparing for a Huge Expansion in Wind Power

As the cost of offshore wind power has been driven down by Europe and China, companies in the US are planning enough capacity to power millions of homes.

Americans owe Europe a thank you. Two decades ago, Germany’s new renewable energy feed-in tariff stimulated the market for rooftop solar power. A decade ago, Denmark, Germany and the UK began to build offshore wind farms that rivalled the output of conventional thermal power plants.

In both cases, billions of pounds of investment pushed the technologies down the cost curve until they could compete against coal, nuclear and gas. Europe pioneered innovations in project finance, built domestic supply chains and gained valuable expertise in how to complete large solar and offshore wind farms.

By the time the US solar market took off in 2010, installations in Europe had helped to make solar competitive with fossil fuels. The phenomenon is poised for a repeat with offshore wind.

The Danes built the first offshore wind project at Vindeby in 1991. A decade later, they built the first commercial-scale project, Middelgrunden, in Copenhagen’s harbour. By the end of the last decade, developers in Europe were building projects with a capacity roughly equivalent to a typical nuclear reactor, such as Hornsea 1, a 1,218 MW wind farm off the coast of England.

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