Danish firm DONG Energy will take over RES Americas’ rights to develop more than 1 GW of new offshore wind capacity off the coast of Massachusetts. 

RES secured the rights to develop one of two leases that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) awarded at its Jan. 29 offshore wind auction. Following approval from BOEM, DONG will take over that lease, the company said in an April 4 statement. RES Americas will continue to support development of the lease area as agreed with DONG Energy.

The lease has a total size of 760 square kilometers (km) and is located about 90 km from shore in waters between 40 and 50 meters deep.

The project will be DONG’s first project outside of Europe, it said. The announcement also marks an interesting twist for the lagging U.S. offshore wind industry.

Despite BOEM’s award of five competitive wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast—two offshore Massachusetts and Rhode Island, two offshore Maryland, and one offshore Virginia—no commercial offshore wind farms have been built in the U.S.

This January, the long-delayed Cape Wind offshore wind project in Massachusetts suffered a debilitating blow after two local utilities that had contracts to buy power from the wind farm terminated their contracts when developers missed an end-of-year deadline to obtain financing and start construction.

The Massachusetts government is pushing a draft policy bill to support regulatory conditions for offshore wind, seeking to provide a stable framework that will enable the build-out of projects.

For DONG’s executive vice president of wind power, Samuel Leupold, the U.S. is an “interesting market for offshore wind.” He said the company already has a number of post-2020 projects in the pipeline in northwestern Europe. “With the takeover of the offshore wind development project in the US, we will broaden our geographical scope and follow the market potential outside of our current footprint.”

The Massachusetts lease site has conditions that are “quite similar to those we currently work with in [northwestern] Europe, which means that the project could be developed using well-known technology and logistics,” Leupold said.

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)