Project development facts

Facts

Clean energy projects must locate a site, secure financing, conduct environmental reviews, find buyers for the power, obtain permits, and communicate with local stakeholders. Getting the development process right ensures projects are profitable, have minimal environmental impact, and are embraced by the community.

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Land-based project development

Clean energy companies are experts in finding the perfect area for new wind and solar farms and energy storage facilities. Companies must secure each of the elements below to move a project from development, through construction, and into operation.

Failure to successfully navigate any one of these issues can result in a shelved project. These steps are necessary to ensure profitable projects, happy host communities, and responsible stewardship of the land.

Adequate resources

Developers typically review several years of data to measure wind speed or solar strength and consistency at a potential location.

Community support

Developers work hand-in-hand with host communities, gaining support through outreach, engagement, and transparency.

Landowner partners

Most U.S. wind and utility-scale solar projects are located on private land, so developers work with landowners to lease land.

Wildlife & environmental studies

Developers work closely with federal and state authorities to identify and mitigate potential impacts on land and wildlife.

Permits

The wind, solar and storage industries are carefully regulated. Developers must secure proper permits from all levels of government.

Transmission

Access to transmission capacity is essential. Developers use existing transmission when possible and build new infrastructure as needed.

Clean power buyers

Developers secure a utility or other entity to purchase power generated by the clean energy project, often before building it.

Financing

Investors are typically large banks that carefully review the business plan, ensuring the project is a good investment.

Decommissioning

Before a project is built, developers plan for end-of-life equipment removal and land restoration.

An example project development timeline for renewable energy,

Offshore wind development

Offshore wind development

Harnessing the wind off our shores

Most of America’s offshore wind projects will be built in federal waters. As such, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) oversees permitting and construction, identifying potential areas for development on the Outer Continental Shelf based on extensive public input.

Offshore wind development

Engaging stakeholders

BOEM solicits public comments, convenes Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Forces (Task Forces), and holds public meetings throughout the development process. BOEM always wants to hear from the public and receive all available information to ensure it makes the most informed decisions possible.

Offshore wind development

Getting started

The development process starts when BOEM determines interest from a state, either through a governor’s request for BOEM to establish a Task Force and hold meetings or when one or more companies seek to build an offshore wind farm in federal waters. This is a multiyear process with ample stakeholder engagement.

Offshore wind development

The public weighs in

BOEM has public comment periods seeking input on site conditions, resources, and multiple uses in close proximity to, or within, potential development areas (Call Areas). Comments should be relevant to BOEM’s review as well as its decision to offer all or part of the Call Areas for leasing. After incorporating extensive public feedback, BOEM identifies Wind Energy Areas (“WEAs”), which are the parts of the OCS that appear most suitable for commercial wind energy activities, while presenting the fewest apparent environmental and user conflicts. These are generally smaller than Call Areas because they incorporate feedback from interested parties, including state and federal agencies and other ocean users, like the fishing and commercial shipping industries. Next, BOEM will then commence a lease process including additional opportunities for public comment.

Offshore wind development

Designing an offshore wind project

Once an offshore wind developer has won the rights through a federal lease auction to develop a project, collecting wind data, mapping and surveying the ocean floor, and conducting environmental impact studies that include evaluation of multiple resources such as wildlife, maritime use, impacts to tribes and , environmental justice, among many others, are all part of project development. The project developer must continue working with BOEM and other federal agencies to secure all necessary permits prior to commencing construction.

A sample timeline for Bureau of Ocean Management participation on an offshore wind project.

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