Can the U.S. catch up to Europe with offshore wind power?
The U.S. is lagging far behind European countries when it comes to developing offshore wind power, but that’s starting to change.
This week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management took another step toward boosting ocean windpower by identifying an 8,130 acre wind area energy south of Long Island, New York, that could one day be leased for development and help generate electricity where it’s needed most — close to densely populated East Coast communities.
Just last October, a University of Delaware study showed that the U.S. is farther from commercial-scale offshore wind deployment today than it was in 2005. Before offshore wind can be developed commercially at a large scale, the U.S. must revamp regulations, as well as tax and finance policy, the study explained. Meanwhile, Europe is generating about 8 percent of its total energy capacity from windpower.
“New York has tremendous offshore wind potential, and today’s milestone marks another important step in the President’s strategy to tap clean, renewable energy from the Nation’s vast wind and solar resources,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a press release. “We will continue to work with the State and local stakeholders through a collaborative effort as we determine what places have the highest potential and lowest conflict to harness the enormous wind energy potential off the Atlantic seaboard.”
To date, BOEM has issued 11 commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast. These include two leases offshore New Jersey stemming from last November’s competitive lease sale. Other commercial leases include two in a WEA offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another three offshore Massachusetts, one offshore Delaware, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia.
“The area is large enough for a large-scale commercial wind project, which could make substantial contributions to the region’s energy supply and assist local and state governments, including New York City, in achieving their renewable energy goals,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper.
The next step in the process is an environmental study to evaluate and disclose potential impacts of wind energy development in the area. BOEM will continue to work with the State of New York to identify additional areas for potential wind energy development in the future.
The Wind Energy Area is based on a proposal by the New York Power Authorityin 2011, when it submitted an application for a commercial wind lease. At that time, NYPA proposed installing up to 194 wind turbines, each generating 3.6 megawatts for a total potential yield of nearly 700 MW of wind energy generation for the Long Island and New York City region.
For more information about this decision, refer to BOEM’s Announcement of Area Identification – Commercial Wind Energy Leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore New York.
Additional information about the Wind Energy Area and BOEM’s commercial wind energy leasing efforts offshore New York can be found on BOEM’s website by clicking here: http://www.boem.gov/New-York
Since 2009, the Obama administration has permitted 57 utility-scale renewable energy projects that generate enough power for nearly five million homes.