As U.S. offshore wind cranks to life, European investors celebrate

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The nascent U.S. offshore wind community is celebrating this week after the Interior Dept. gave environmental approval to the biggest new wind farm to date in New England, the Vineyard Wind project off of Martha’s Vineyard. But it’s European wind investors who are the big winners.

As wind projects along the Eastern seaboard begin to take shape — after almost two decades of discussion and delays — European businesses are partnering with key states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Vineyard Wind plans to generate up to 800 megawatts — enough to power 400,000 homes — starting in 2023, the first commercial scale offshore project in the U.S. It’s run by a joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners from Denmark and Avingrid Renewables, a unit of Spanish energy giant Iberdola SA, whose shares rose 3% today on the approval news.

Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy company, which is investing in other U.S. projects, saw its shares jump more than 6%. Shares of Vestas Wind Systems (VWDRY), the largest maker of wind turbines, popped more than 6% as well, though in the case of Vineyard Wind, the turbines will be produced by General Electric (GE).

In all, there are about a dozen other wind projects along the East Coast, as far down as New Jersey and Virginia, hoping to gain approvals — and with them, lucrative tax credits — in coming months. They promise thousands of jobs — U.S. jobs — and important new sources of energy to the Northeast grid. But it’s a global business and right now, Europe has taken the lead. 

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Tuesday’s insights: Musk's gift to Texas; Chevron's carbon storage play

. . . . Elon Musk hasn’t even met the postal carrier at his new home in Austin yet, but he’s already investing big in Texas, with plans for a 100-megawatt battery project south of Houston to help the state’s ailing electricity grid. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Chevron and Microsoft announced a joint venture to make energy from farm waste and store the carbon underground in a deal sure to make new Chevron shareholder and longtime Bill Gates friend Warren Buffett smile. After all, he’s up more than $1.2 billion already on his CVX investment last year. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Wells Fargo became the latest — and last — big U.S. bank to make a climate pledge this week, promising to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and invest more than $500 billion in sustainable projects. Read more here. . . .

. . . . The Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard was quickly becoming the “Big Dig” of wind power plans in Massachusetts after years of delays, but it was finally granted environmental approval this week by the Interior Department. Now comes the hard part. Read more here. . . .

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. . . . Energy storage experienced a major boom in the fourth quarter of 2020, with a record 2,156MWh of new energy storage systems completed in the waning months of the year. Read more about this massive buildout and what it means for the future of energy storage capacity in the U.S. . . .

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