Offshore wind to drive billions over next decade — report

Source: By Heather Richards, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Offshore wind in the United States could grow a thousandfold within the decade, generating up to $25 billion in economic activity, according to the country’s largest wind trade association.

The American Wind Energy Association predicted today that offshore wind will repeat the rapid growth witnessed in onshore wind in recent years, driven by falling costs of development, technology advances and federal tax credits nearing sunset.

The $25 billion mark is at AWEA’s high end of expectations for the burgeoning sector, which has yet to grow beyond the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm pilot project off the coast of Rhode Island.

Commitments from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia to buy offshore wind energy have now crested 25,000 MW. States are competing to secure both renewable power and a foothold in the ascendant industry’s supply chain.

“State leaders are seeing the environmental and economic promise of offshore wind and are stepping in to provide the vision and policies to help this industry quickly achieve scale,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan in a statement. “Offshore wind, following on the rapid proliferation of land-based wind over the past decade, is positioned to achieve significant growth and deliver jobs and economic output along the East Coast and throughout the rest of the country.”

AWEA’s base case scenario assumes a constant level of investment and job creation from the sector year by year up to 2030.

Every 2,000 MW of wind power in the group’s model creates 1,000 construction and maintenance jobs. By 2030, the wind energy association estimates the industry could support between 45,000 and 83,000 jobs.

The offshore wind industry has recently increased its lobbying efforts to clear what’s perceived as a federal hurdle to growing the sector. Last year, the Trump administration tapped the brakes on the expected first full-scale offshore wind farm in federal waters off Massachusetts, shaking industry confidence in the government’s support (Energywire, March 6).

Yesterday, House Democrats pressed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acting chief Walter Cruickshank on the delays. Cruickshank said the agency was forced to slow down and take stock of the industry’s cumulative impact due to the rapid increase in state wind commitments (E&E Daily, March 11).