Mon.
Oct 18
2021
offshore wind energy

The United States appears to be taking a page from Europe’s energy playbook, as the Biden administration seeks cleaner energy and job creation from offshore wind generation.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s plan seeks to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind generation by 2030 from both coasts of the U.S. The programme is expected to trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment.

The administration projects an ability to meet the demand of 10 million homes and avoid 78 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions. It also sees more than 44,000 workers employed in offshore wind by 2030 and another 33,000 jobs supported by the activity.

The administration initially targeted areas in the seas off the densely populated east coast for development, according to a White House statement. The new “priority Wind Energy Area” in New York Bight is located in a shallow water area between Long Island and the New Jersey Coast. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management sees a lease sale in late 2021 or early 2022.

The Bureau is also advancing environmental permitting for Ocean Wind for New Jersey after previously advancing projects in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It plans to initiate environmental reviews for ten additional projects this year. 

The plan follows Biden’s campaign promises, and market expectations, to step up clean energy generation in the United States. Moves offshore mimic those going on in Europe, where offshore wind output – riding stronger and more constant ocean winds – is already in significant scale. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sought for the U.K. to become a global leader in wind energy, reflecting the increasing competition to drive technology and development in this sector.

European energy companies seeking to transition from petroleum have already taken interest in U.S. offshore projects. Earlier this year, BP paid Norway’s Equinor $1.1 billion to take a half stake in two offshore wind projects off the east coast of the U.S. 

For its own part, the U.S. has shown no less ambition to use the industry to create its own leadership. It wants to grow jobs, competency and production along the supply chain.

“The Department of Energy is going to marshal every resource we have to get as many American companies, using as many sheets of American steel, employing as many American works as possible in offshore wind energy – to drive economic growth from coast to coast,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in the statement.

The U.S. will further support the plan by offering businesses to apply for $230 million in funding for ports and infrastructure. The Energy Department’s loan program office will also help offshore wind access $3 billion in lending.

By Stephen Bierman

Stephen Bierman is an energy markets journalist and the editor of New Economy Observer.

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