The USA is moving ahead with a bill that promotes the development of renewable energy, which includes an amendment that ensure that Jones Act requirements are enforced for all offshore renewable energy production.

The bill clarifies that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act – a 1953 law that governs offshore oil and gas development – also applies to lease sales of non-fossil fuel energy sectors, such as wind power.

The Jones Act is a federal law that regulates maritime commerce in the USA and requires goods shipped between US ports to be transported on vessels that are built, owned and operated by US citizens or permanent residents. The amendment, introduced by congressmen John Garamendi, would mean that vessels built for the offshore wind industry outside of the USA would not be able to operate on US wind farm projects, unless they operate out of non-US bases or receive components by compliant feeder vessels.

The USA’s offshore wind energy sector is on the cusp of a huge upturn, but a longstanding barrier to the development of the sector is the lack of available US-flagged jack-up installation vessels.

There are plans afoot to build compliant installation vessels. For example, USA-based Dominion Energy is advancing with its plans to construct a suitable ship and selected Huisman as the supplier of its 2,200-ton (1,995.8-tonne) lifting capacity offshore crane, as HLPFI reported here

GustoMSC and Barge Master are also developing a feeder system that would enable turbine components to be shuttled offshore using a BM-T1700 motion-compensated platform aboard a US-flagged offshore vessel of seagoing barge. A non-US-flagged jack up installation vessel can wait offshore ready to perform installation works. 

GustoMSC said it sees sufficient potential for larger purpose-built Jones Act-compliant installation jack ups to cope with the expected increase in turbine size, weights and hub heights. However, the company claims its feeder barge system “is a solid solution for the first wave of US projects”.