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Offshore Wind

ATB data for offshore wind are shown above. These projections are derived by combining techno-economic modeling with an assessment of future technology and innovation pathways. Baseline offshore wind costs in 2018 (COD—commercial operation date) are modeled in NREL's Offshore Regional Cost Analyzer (ORCA) tool (Beiter et al. 2016) for thousands of potential offshore wind sites across major U.S. coastal areas. The representation of ORCA used for the 2020 ATB includes assumptions that were updated to correspond to the latest technology and market developments. Future cost scenarios up to 2032 (COD) are determined using an assessment of technology and innovation pathways and increased efficiencies and learning in the supply chain. These technology and innovation pathways are structured around increasing turbine nameplate capacity through 2032, which induce economies of scale and yield cost reductions in the capital (CAPEX) and operation and maintenance (OPEX) expenditures. Higher turbine ratings also reduce wake losses and thereby increase the annual energy production of an offshore wind plant. Costs beyond 2032 are obtained by extrapolating the cost trends estimated for 2018–2032 (COD).

The three scenarios for technology innovation are:

  • Conservative Technology Innovation Scenario (Conservative Scenario): turbine size remaining at a level consistent with the technology solutions available in today's markets;limited advancements in technology innovation are characteristic of this scenario. Logistical and manufacturing constraints are similar to those today, and they limit turbine size growth.
  • Moderate Technology Innovation Scenario (Moderate Scenario): turbine size increasing at a rate commensurate with growth in recent years;logistical, manufacturing, operating and performance constraints are addressed by technology innovation in turbine, substructure, port and vessel capabilities to enable the next generation of offshore wind technology. These increases in turbine size are accompanied by continued increases in supply chain efficiencies.
  • Advanced Technology Innovation Scenario (Advanced Scenario): turbine size increasing at a rate that is considerably higher than in recent years; accelerated technology innovation enables large turbine systems and fundamentally change the manufacturing, installation, operation, and performance of a wind farm.


The following references are specific to this page; for all references in this ATB, see References.

Beiter, Philipp, Musial, Walter, Smith, Aaron, Kilcher, Levi, Damiani, Rick, Maness, Michael, Sirnivas, Senu, Stehly, Tyler, Gevorgian, Vahan, Mooney, Meghan, & Scott, George. (2016). A Spatial-Economic Cost-Reduction Pathway Analysis for U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Development from 2015-2030. (No. NREL/TP-6A20-66579). National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.