The US has a goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030. This is an ambitious goal given that the current installed offshore wind capacity in the US is a total of seven turbines capable of generating just 42 megawatts of power. So, there is a long way to go in a relatively short amount of time.
Since 2021, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a division of the Department of the Interior, has held three offshore wind lease auctions, which grant rights to developers to install offshore wind in specific marine areas. The first two auctions involve sites in the northeast, including areas in New York. The third auction, held last December, offered sites off the California Coast – the first US sites in the Pacific.
In February, the Department of the Interior proposed a new offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. It identified a 102,480-acre area off the coast of Louisiana, and two similar-sized areas offshore from Galveston, Texas.
The proposal is now in a 60-day period of seeking public comments before deciding whether to move ahead with the sale. As was the case for the other lease auctions, there would stipulations associated with accepted bids including efforts to build up domestic industry for the supply chain and labor force. There would also be requirements to establish and contribute to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund to address any potential negative impacts to the fishing industry.
About two-thirds of offshore wind resources in the US are located in deep-water areas that will require floating platforms. A federal program called Floating Offshore Wind Shot has the goal of developing cost-effective technology for this purpose.
Gulf of Mexico may be next up for offshore wind leases
Photo, posted May 13, 2011, courtesy of the Department of Energy and Climate Change via Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio