US OSW Sector Maturation

October 1, 2021
John Dalton

In the last two weeks there have been three indications that the US OSW market is maturing. Perhaps of most importance was the financing of the 800 MW Vineyard Wind project, which involved construction and term loan debt financing with nine banks. This is a critical milestone and demonstrates lender confidence in the industry, which is essential. Information regarding pricing and other critical terms (debt service coverage ratios, etc.) will provide valuable insights regarding how the perceived risk profile for OSW compares with other more established renewable resources. The second development was that the third Massachusetts OSW RFP (83C III) received proposals from just two bidders: Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind, both of which have been successful in past Massachusetts OSW RFPs. Baystate Wind (Ørsted/Eversource partnership) and the Equinor/BP partnership elected to not participate. This suggests that the industry has moved from a win-at-any-cost perspective, with all parties aggressively participating, to a more strategic perspective where parties assess existing contract commitments, past success, and make measured decisions regarding whether to participate in RFPs. The decision to pass on this opportunity might have also been influenced by the maximum bid price threshold in the RFP and the fact that in the US, Ørsted has under contract over 4,000 MW across 6 projects and Equinor over 3,300 MW across 3 projects, which would compete for management resources and available supply chain. This suggests we’ve moved beyond the first mover advantage stage where OSW developers were highly motivated to secure contracts to establish a US beachhead. The final indicator of market maturation is the decision by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, to restructure their Vineyard Wind joint venture. Vineyard Wind was an attractive opportunity for risk sharing in the emerging US OSW market. It appears that these partners have found that their interests and perspectives have diverged. Their current market position provides the ability to conduct such restructuring and address the distinct needs of each partner.