US offshore wind project development: An industry getting ready to scale up

Following our previous article on the legislative and funding context for U.S. offshore wind and renewables, our second interview with Anntonette Zembrzuska, JD, RPS’ new Director – North America Offshore Renewables, explores challenges in offshore wind construction and compliance, infrastructure and staffing. We look at how to address these, and some of the solutions RPS is putting in place to support our clients.

01 Nov 2022

QAs demand for offshore wind development grows, what pressures do you foresee for the industry across North America?

The biggest challenges to offshore wind development in the US are supply chain and workforce readiness. I’ll use New York State as an example, as in our previous article. The 2022 New York Offshore Wind Workforce Gap Analysis notes that between 2019 and 2040, the state is projected to see offshore wind jobs grow by 18,000 to 23,000 jobs. Most of the job growth will be concentrated in the manufacturing, construction, and induced industries. Together, manufacturing and construction will account for about six in ten offshore wind jobs (56.5 per cent) by 2040. Management and professional service positions will account for 34.5% of this job growth in New York.

Offshore wind has a lengthy and complicated siting, design, and permitting process; It takes several years of studies and assessments to design and permit an offshore wind farm. Naturally, as the number of proposed projects grows, there is growth pressure on the companies that deliver these services to developers.

Growing human resource capability in offshore wind development is an industry-wide challenge. To support industry here, RPS is developing an Offshore Wind Workforce Development Portal product for offshore wind developers to attract, support, track and report on individuals and businesses interested in entering the industry. And we’re heavily investing in our own teams so that we can provide consistently high-quality service on even more projects. Through strategic hires, training and partnerships, we are also broadening the services we offer in the US to match our global full-service offering, bringing much needed capacity to the offshore wind development services space.

Related read: How industry permitting training is helping to address global offshore wind bottlenecks

QWhat are some of the biggest challenges the industry could encounter in deploying offshore wind projects at scale and at speed?

As Alun Williams mentioned in a recent article, the need to upskill resources to meet market need applies across the entire supply chain. This is equally true across the Americas.

As more projects are approved and move to implementation phase, the talent crunch described above will be felt in the construction industry. All aspects of the offshore wind construction supply chain, from ships and construction equipment, to wind farm and transmission system components, to the workers needed construct these projects, will be in high demand. Adequate port infrastructure is also needed. As developers race to prepare projects for construction, a great deal of work must be done to build up the means to construct multiple US offshore wind projects simultaneously.

RPS is doing our part by creating new environmental construction compliance products to support our clients in meeting the requirements of their permits during construction, and proceeding without costly delays due to non-compliance events. Because of our extensive Protected Species Observation expertise and other compliance monitoring and mitigation work in offshore wind, we’re uniquely positioned to help developers with this critical task.

Related read: Environmental compliance for offshore wind – what are the activities developers need to know about and how can you plan them effectively?

QWhat other solutions do you think will be important to support offshore wind development in the coming years?

As the industry matures, tools to standardize and simplify aspects of siting, design, and permitting will develop – helping to mitigate the expense of the energy transition. RPS products like OceansMap, PSOMap, and ComplianceMap streamline complex tasks and reduce risk for our clients.

We are also involved in research and development of new technologies. For example, RPS is on a team that has won a major award from the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC) to facilitate offshore wind’s coexistence with wildlife and other ocean users. In collaboration with Saildrone, the award will utilize advanced uncrewed observing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning (ML) technologies to create a line-of-sight monitoring network to detect, classify, and localize marine mammals in areas with offshore wind developments.

We’re excited to offer US developers support in this rapidly expanding market, with the expansion of our teams, services and locations – while leveraging the experience we’ve gained over decades supporting US offshore energy exploration and development, as well as in world-class offshore wind consulting globally.

To find out more about any of the US offshore wind challenges or solutions Anntonette has discussed, please contact her at

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