New U.S. National Offshore Wind Strategy Released


By MarEx 2016-09-09 19:59:59

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell have announced the publication of a collaborative strategic plan to continue accelerating the development of offshore wind energy in the United States.

The National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States could help enable 86 gigawatts of offshore wind in the United States by 2050. The strategy details the current state of offshore wind in the United States, presents the actions and innovations needed to reduce deployment costs and timelines, and provides a roadmap to support the growth and success of the industry.

The strategy was published just weeks after construction was completed on America’s first offshore commercial wind farm off of Block Island, RI. The new 30 MW wind farm was BOEM’s first right-of-way grant and is expected to start operating by the end of 2016. It will generate enough electricity to power 17,000 homes in New England. 

Across the country, states like Massachusetts, which just passed an energy bill that requires utilities to get 1600 MW of their power from offshore wind by the summer of 2027, are accelerating the development of offshore wind across our nation’s coastal states. 

The National Offshore Wind Strategy identifies key challenges facing the industry and more than 30 specific actions that DOE and DOI can take over the next five years to address those challenges. These actions fall into three strategic areas:

1.    Reducing technical costs and risks. DOI proposes the joint development of standard data collection guidelines to foster predictability and inform safe project development and DOE will work to increase annual energy production and reliability of offshore wind plants.

2.    Supporting effective stewardship. DOI commits to numerous actions to ensure that the regulatory process is predictable, transparent, efficient and informed by lessons learned from regulators in other countries. Additionally, as the first generation of installed projects come online, DOI and DOE will collect field data on parts of offshore development including impacts on marine life and turbine radar interference in order to support future offshore wind siting and plan reviews. 

3.    Improving the market conditions for investment in offshore wind energy. Studies are needed help quantify the broad grid integration impacts of adding significant amounts of offshore wind energy to the power system. Such information could significantly benefit the offshore wind community by informing state policies critical to supporting development.

The strategy builds on DOE and DOI's first joint offshore wind strategy, published in 2011. Since then, the Energy Department has allocated nearly $200 million to support three cutting-edge offshore wind demonstration projects led by the University of Maine, New Jersey’s Fishermen’s Energy, and Ohio’s Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, and research and development investments in technologies that specifically address the opportunities and challenges across U.S. waters. 

Additionally, since 2010, the Department of the Interior has issued 11 commercial leases for offshore wind development, nine of which generated approximately $16 million through competitive lease sales and covered more than one million acres of federal waters.

DOE has found that developing 86,000 MW of these offshore wind energy resources by 2050 would support 160,000 jobs, reduce power sector water consumption by five percent, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.8 percent.

NOIA Responds

NOIA President Randall Luthi has issued the following statement on the new National Offshore Wind Strategy: 

“As the United States and the world seek to find and produce more energy to meet ever increasing needs, the offshore wind strategy announced today is a glass only half full of opportunity. While the plan is a good start towards helping to meet growing energy demands, a more realistic offshore energy strategy would be broader, involving both non-traditional sources, such as offshore wind, and traditional sources, such as low cost and efficient offshore oil and natural gas.  

“Unfortunately, the federal regulators are apparently saddled with blinders that provide only a narrow focus for our energy future. Earlier this year, the Department of the Interior prematurely dropped consideration of an oil and natural gas sale off the Atlantic coast, apparently abandoning an “all-of-the-above” energy approach in the area. Imagine how many additional jobs, increased economic development and greater energy security could be provided to U.S. consumers and residents all along the Atlantic coast if wind, oil and natural gas were included in the offshore energy development strategy announced today.”

The report is available here.