The Bill for Offshore Wind Power Is Rising - Kanebridge News
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The Bill for Offshore Wind Power Is Rising

Prices in recent offshore auctions have increased by anywhere from 20% to 70%

By CAROL RYAN
Thu, Nov 23, 2023 10:54amGrey Clock 3 min

With offshore wind projects bleeding cash, governments will have to pay more to hit their clean-energy targets. Recent auctions show just how much more.

Higher prices for steel, labor and debt financing have raised the cost of developing a wind farm by almost 40% since 2019. It is a big problem for developers like Danish energy company Ørsted, which signed power supply agreements a few years ago at prices that no longer cover today’s costs.

Developers’ struggles are having a knock-on effect on the turbine makers that supply them, including Vestas, GE and Siemens Energy. The latter’s wind unit, Siemens Gamesa, lost €4.3 billion in the company’s latest fiscal year, equivalent to $4.7 billion at current exchange rates—although its issues are mainly with faulty onshore turbines rather than offshore ones.

Germany last week stepped in with a multi-billion-euro state-backed guarantee for Siemens Energy, which told investors at a capital markets day on Tuesday that its wind division won’t make a profit until after 2026. GE says its offshore wind business will lose $1 billion this year, and the same again in 2024.

The industry’s deepest challenges are in the U.S., a market that was meant to be the next growth frontier following the Biden administration’s pledge to install 30 gigawatts of offshore capacity by 2030. Instead, developers are taking multibillion-dollar impairments on U.S. projects, or backing out entirely. According to BloombergNEF, of the 21.6 gigawatts of offshore wind power awarded or signed so far in the U.S., a quarter has been canceled and almost another third is at risk.

Governments are now responding by topping up the prices at which they auction off licenses. Britain was forced to raise its guaranteed price for offshore wind power by 66% after a September auction didn’t attract a single bid. The average price in New York’s latest offshore wind auction in October was a fifth higher than previous rounds, according to BloombergNEF, and the bill could rise further as new contracts include inflation protection that will shield developers from future cost pressures.

Paying higher, more flexible prices for fresh contracts might still end up being a cheaper solution for New York than renegotiating old ones. Developers including BP and Equinor asked for increases of 49% on average over what was agreed in their original power supply contracts. They may pull out after getting a no from the state.

Governments and companies had become used to the cost of renewable energy heading only one way. The global average levelized cost of electricity generated by offshore wind—a measure of the minimum price necessary to cover the lifetime costs of a project—has plunged by 66% since 2009, according to BloombergNEF data.

After years of becoming more competitive as a source of power, offshore wind is beginning to look expensive in some markets compared with fossil-fuel alternatives. Globally, new offshore wind projects still work out cheaper than natural gas ones and are level with coal. But offshore wind looks costly in the U.S., partly because the supply chain is so immature and will need heavy investment for several years.

The new reality makes it harder for governments to meet their net-zero targets while also keeping power costs low for the public. But densely populated areas like New York may not have much choice but to exploit offshore wind. Clean alternatives such as land-based wind and solar farms are tough to roll out where space is at a premium.

The European Union is also aware that if governments don’t do more to support local companies like Siemens Energy, Chinese turbine manufacturers that enjoy generous subsidies from Beijing will be only too happy to step in. This would help the EU stay on track with an ambitious plan to increase its offshore wind capacity sevenfold by 2030, but at the expense of the bloc’s energy independence.

Harnessing the winds out at sea is still a key part of countries’ plans to cut their carbon emissions and boost energy security. But governments can no longer pretend that these political objectives can come cheap.



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Milestone birthdays and anniversaries, weddings, and graduations are momentous life occasions that some like to mark with large and elaborate celebrations.

And the deep-pocketed set are still in catch-up mode after a party-throwing standstill during the pandemic that went on for many months during the height of the lockdowns and social distancing. Bashes since then have become ever more extravagant and experiential—mere get-togethers, they’re not.

Hosts are also seeking any excuse to throw an event and having parties with the same “wow” factor for far less significant reasons, or for micro-occasions as they’re called, and even “just because,” according to luxury event planners who work with this elite set.

Colin Cowie, a planner based in New York and Miami who regularly orchestrates multimillion-dollar gatherings and was behind Jennifer Lopez’s and Ben Affleck’s wedding, calls it the “event revolution.”

“Large-scale events have become the norm,” Cowie says. “The wealthy, who are used to celebrating their life moments in a big way couldn’t do anything during the pandemic and are now going all out for anything they host.”

His company, Colin Cowie Lifestyle, plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid and has a lineup booked for the next two years. An example includes an upcoming million-dollar dinner party in the Hamptons simply to socialise with friends. It’s an affair with free-flowing Dom Perignon, centre-cut filet mignons, and unlimited caviar.

Colin Cowie Lifestyle plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid
Calen Rose

Other high-end planners also attribute the rise of over-the-top celebrations to a “live life to the fullest” attitude that’s become prevalent in the last few years. But they say that these parties aren’t necessarily about spending more than before—rather, they’re increasingly creative, thoughtful, and, with respect to weddings, longer.

Lynn Easton, a Charleston-based planner, says that her typical wedding used to span two days and entailed a rehearsal dinner plus the wedding itself. “Now, it’s a five-day bonanza with events like a groomsman lunch,” Easton says.

Easton also plans glitzy milestone birthdays such as one for a 60th where the host flew 60 friends and family to a private island. Dinners were multi-hour affairs in various locations around the isle with the showpiece being a five-course meal where the food was presented on dishes that were hand-carved in ice.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, based in New York and Miami, says that, in a new precedent, the weddings she’s tapped to design kick off with striking welcome meals. She recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden. Elements included potted herbs, lemon trees, vintage olive oil cans, ceramic plates, and table cards presented with palm leaves in limoncello cans.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden.
Aletiza Photo

Pashmina shawls hung from chairs to keep guests warm, and freshly baked pizzas and Aperol spritzes were in ready supply throughout the evening.

Stacy Teckin, the groom’s mother, hosted the party with her husband, Ian, and says she sought to pull off a dinner that made an impression on their guests. “The wedding was delayed because of Covid, and now that we had the chance to celebrate, we wanted to go all out,” Teckin says. “I’m not sure we would have done that before.”

In another example, acclaimed planner Norma Cohen threw a wild safari-themed bar mitzvah for a client.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon
Norma Cohen Productions

The memorable occasion transpired at Spring Studios in downtown Manhattan and saw 400 guests be transported to the African plains: Details included mammoth replicas of wildlife such as giraffes and elephants, servers in safari themed attire, and entertainment dressed like giraffes. The event was one of several over-the-top parties Cohen’s arranged recently.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon, one of the city’s most luxurious properties, also ranks high in Cohen’s memory.

Then there’s a destination party in London that Cohen planned for a client who was turning 40. It as a six-day affair with dinners at swanky spots such as Cipriani, the Arts Club, and Cecconi’s at Soho House. The finale was Lancaster House, a mansion in St. James, where guests were entertained by cabaret dancers from the famed Ibiza club Lio Ibiza and feasted on prime rib and lamb chops and imbibed on Krug champagne.

“People today don’t want to host events,” Cohen says. “They want experiences that take you away to a different place and make you forget that the real world exists.”