Biden Aims to Dramatically Boost Offshore Wind Generation in the Atlantic
Written by John Egan for Industrial Info Resources (Sugar Land, Texas)--A moment that has been long-awaited by offshore wind power developers arrived Monday when the Biden administration announced efforts designed to lead to the construction of as much as 30,000 megawatts (MW) of new offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030. That level of construction activity would also strengthen the U.S. offshore wind power supply chain and create many good-paying union jobs, according to the administration.
Monday's announcement is separate from a plan, expected to be unveiled by President Joe Biden on Wednesday, to rebuild America's infrastructure with a pivot to clean energy, at an expected cost of $3 trillion to $4 trillion.
Industrial Info is tracking 22 active U.S. offshore wind power projects under development in the Atlantic Ocean, collectively valued at approximately $32.2 billion. If all of those projects were constructed, they would add about 14,164 MW of new generation capacity.
"Tackling the climate crisis is vital to our nation's future," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said in a statement released March 29 by the White House. "The Biden-Harris Administration is taking actions that show how creating jobs and addressing climate change can and must go hand in hand."
Buttigieg was one of several cabinet-level officials whose comments were released by the White House. The secretaries of Interior, Energy and Commerce, as well as National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, also commented on the initiative.
McCarthy said: "President Biden has declared very clearly that when he thinks of climate, he thinks of people and jobs - good-paying, union jobs. That's because President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of climate change, but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America's economic recovery, rebuild the middle class, and make sure we bounce back from the crises we face."
To jump-start the construction of offshore wind generation in the Atlantic, the administration will make up to $3 billion in loan guarantees available to developers through the Department of Energy. Also, the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is designating an area of shallow water between Long Island and the New Jersey coast as a new priority Wind Energy Area, which would facilitate construction of the new generation.
In addition, the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC), created by the U.S. Department of Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), is announcing awards totaling $8 million to 15 offshore wind research and development projects that were selected through a competitive process. Also, the Biden administration is providing more than $500 million in investments in new port upgrades. helping build the requisite port and supply chain infrastructure.
In its announcement, the White House said it expected the surge in demand for offshore wind generation could lead to the construction of one or two new U.S. factories to manufacture major windfarm components, including wind turbine nacelles, blades, towers, foundations and subsea cables. The administration also projected a surge in offshore wind generation would push up steel demand by more than seven million tons - equivalent to four years of output for a typical U.S. steel mill. A growth of offshore wind generation also is expected to lead to the construction in U.S. shipyards of four to six new specialized wind turbine installation vessels, with each vessel representing an investment between $250 million and $500 million, the White House said.
Achieving its goal of constructing as much as 30,000 MW of offshore wind generation by 2030 would be a significant down payment of an even loftier goal: constructing as much as 110,000 MW of offshore wind generation by 2050, which would create as many as 77,000 offshore wind jobs and more than 57,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity, the White House statement added.
The March 29 statement said Interior Department's BOEM is announcing a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Ocean Wind offshore wind generation project. The Ocean Wind project proposal envisions constructing 1,100 MW of offshore wind power off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. In earlier actions, BOEM announced it would be conducting environmental reviews for the Vineyard Wind project, off the Massachusetts coast, and the South Fork project, off the coast of Rhode Island. In addition, BOEM said it anticipates initiating environmental reviews for up to 10 additional offshore wind projects later this year.
Also on March 29, the Transportation Department's Maritime Administration announced a notice of funding of up to $230 million to support port infrastructure and intermodal improvements tied to offshore wind power.
Before becoming secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo was governor of Rhode Island, where she presided over a dramatic expansion of renewable electricity in the state. Before leaving the governor's mansion for Washington, D.C., Raimondo issued an executive order for Rhode Island to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
On March 29, Raimondo commented: "We look forward to engaging the public and private sectors to invest in clean energy solutions, like offshore wind, that will contribute to our whole-of-government approach to combat the climate crisis and create high-paying, high-skilled American jobs."
She can expect to hear plenty from commercial fishermen, who have long opposed offshore wind projects, arguing they would disturb fishing lanes, interfere with the radar used by larger boats to navigate at night and threaten their livelihood. Also, some tourism groups don't want to see wind turbines in the ocean because they are fearful of lost tourism dollars.
Offshore wind supporters, on the other hand, welcomed the Biden administration announcement. Despite high-quality U.S. offshore wind resources, efforts to build offshore wind farms have for years been stymied by those concerns. For more on that, see June 17, 2019, article - Can U.S. Offshore Wind Find a Way to Realize its Vast Potential?; November 10, 2020, article - Will U.S. Offshore Wind Power Development Surge or Stall?; February 8, 2021, article - Biden Executive Order Could Accelerate Offshore Windfarm Development.