Feds seek to boost offshore wind power

New strategic plan could boost investment

Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen, Denmark. Under the Obama administration and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the U.S. may start catching up with other countries in developing renewable energy resources. PHOTO VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.
Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen, Denmark. Under the Obama administration and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the U.S. may start catching up with other countries in developing renewable energy resources. PHOTO VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Staff Report

After laying the groundwork for utility scale solar development with an over-arching plan covering public lands, the Obama administration wants to take similar steps to foster offshore wind power. Last week, cabinet officials said their strategic vision for offshore wind energy includes reducing technical costs and risks  to make investments more predictable.

The Department of Interior will take steps to make the  regulatory process more predictable, transparent, efficient and informed by lessons learned from regulators in other countries. The Energy and Interior departments also committed to analyzing field data from operating offshore wind farms to asses impacts on marine life, turbine radar interference in to support future offshore wind siting and plan reviews.

Most importantly, the administration wants to improve market conditions for investments in offshore wind energy. If offshore wind power comes online in big chunks, studies are needed to figure out how to integrate the energy into the grid, or how to modernized the grid to maximize the potential.

The strategy, 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. It 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 megawatt 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.

“This Administration has made significant investments in clean energy technologies, supporting a diversified energy portfolio to help meet our Climate Action Plan goal of permitting 20,000 MW of renewable electricity generation on public lands and waters by 2020,” Interior Secretary Jewell said in a press release.

“Offshore wind has experienced enormous progress during the Obama administration. The first offshore wind farm has now finished construction, and we have gone from zero offshore wind areas leased before this administration to eleven areas that total the size of Rhode Island,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

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.

The full report, National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States, is online at wind.energy.gov.

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