Offshore Wind Power in the US

More good news about wind power! Earlier this month I mentioned progress on Vineyard Wind, a planned offshore wind farm that should generate 800 megawatts when it’s finally running. Now the Biden adminstration has begun a broader initiative. They want to get sixteen construction plans for offshore wind worked out by 2025, for 19 gigawatts of wind power. And their bigger goal is 30 gigawatts of wind power by 2030.

• Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Biden administration launches major push to expand offshore wind power, Washington Post, 29 March 2021.

The White House on Monday detailed an ambitious plan to expand wind farms along the East Coast and jump-start the country’s nascent offshore wind industry, saying it hoped to trigger a massive clean-energy effort in the fight against climate change.

The plan would generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by the end of the decade — enough to power more than 10 million American homes and cut 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. To accomplish that, the Biden administration said, it would speed permitting for projects off the East Coast, invest in research and development, provide low-interest loans to industry and fund changes to U.S. ports.

“We are ready to rock-and-roll,” national climate adviser Gina McCarthy told reporters in a phone call Monday. She framed the effort as being as much about jobs as about clean energy. Offshore wind power will generate “thousands of good-paying union jobs. This is all about creating great jobs in the ocean and in our port cities and in our heartland,” she said.

The initiative represents a major stretch for the United States. The country has only one offshore wind project online at this time, generating 30 megawatts, off Rhode Island.

Administration officials said they would speed up offshore wind development by setting concrete deadlines for reviewing and approving permit applications; establish a new wind energy area in the waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast; invest $230 million to upgrade U.S. ports; and provide $3 billion in potential loans for the offshore wind industry through the Energy Department.

The program also instructs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to share data with Orsted, a Danish offshore wind development firm, about the U.S. waters where it holds leases. NOAA will grant $1 million to help study the impact of offshore wind operations on fishing operators as well as coastal communities.

The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, a joint project of the Energy Department and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, will give $8 million in research grants to 15 offshore wind research and development projects.

[….]

Although offshore wind represents the fastest-growing sector in renewable power, the country remains far behind Europe.

Europe already has 24 gigawatts of operational capacity, and Britain alone aims to have 40 gigawatts online by 2030, said Vegard Wiik Vollset, vice president of renewable energy at Rystad Energy, which analyzes the energy sector.

“Compared to Europe, the U.S. is very much in its infancy,” he said.

But wind power is poised to take off along the East Coast, with recent commitments from several states — Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia — to buy at least 25,000 megawatts of offshore electricity by 2035, according to the American Clean Power Association.

As part of Monday’s announcement, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it will start preparing an environmental-impact statement for Ocean Wind, a New Jersey project that has 1,100 megawatts of capacity.

5 Responses to Offshore Wind Power in the US

  1. someone says:

    I don’t have the references ready but I remember reading that there are lots of problems with (noise pollution from) wind farms. In particular whales seem to suffer from it. Then when they are placed, hammering a 10m diameter tube into the seabed also produces incredible noises known to pop fish eardrums. There’s also doubts that they produce more energy over their lifetime than what it takes to produce the steel etc. (not sure if the last one still holds).

  2. Sir Light says:

    By 2030 means that there is a chance of a new administration coming with another “make new workplaces, renew industry” viewpoint.

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