Energy Dept., Interior Announce Plan to Advance Offshore Wind Development

Source: By ASHA GLOVER, Morning Consult • Posted: Monday, September 12, 2016

A plan published by the Energy Department and the Interior Department could help enable 86 gigawatts of offshore wind energy production and support 160,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2050, the departments announced Friday.

According to the plan, almost 80 percent of U.S. electricity demand is located in coastal states and offshore wind energy technical potential is equal to about two times the U.S.’s electricity demand. In order to tap into the benefits of offshore energy, the plan says the U.S. must reduce the costs and technical risks associated with offshore wind development, provide regulatory certainty and mitigate the environmental risks of offshore wind development, and increase the understanding of the costs and benefits of offshore wind energy.

The National Offshore Wind Strategy follows a period of growth for U.S. offshore wind energy. The Interior Department said that by the end of 2015, it awarded 11 commercial leases for offshore wind development that could support more than 14 gigawatts of capacity. Last month, construction was completed on the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. in Block Island, R.I.

“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 Sally Jewell said in a statement.

The National Ocean Industries Association said the plan was not enough to meet energy demand, calling it a “glass only half full of opportunity.” In a Friday statement, NOIA President Randall Luthi said the plan was “a good start,” but called for a plan that combined nontraditional energy sources, such as offshore wind, and traditional ones, such as oil and natural gas.

“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,” Luthi said.