The White House hosted a summit on offshore wind energy today. Its goal was to convene state and industry leaders committed to the long-term and sustainable development of offshore wind energy in the United States. By 2030, offshore wind is projected to supply 22,000 megawatts of clean and abundant energy to cities and communities in America enough to power 4.5 million homes.
In addition, the White House announced the following actions in support of the development of offshore wind energy:
- Establishing a White House Interagency Working Group on Offshore Wind. Offshore wind will play an integral role in our future energy portfolio. It is therefore critical that the federal government work with states and other key stakeholders to ensure the responsible development of this technology. The Interagency Working Group will ensure effective coordination among federal agencies working on offshore wind. The White House Council on Environmental Quality and Domestic Policy Council will co-chair the Working Group with participation from the Department of Interior (including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service), the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation (including the Federal Aviation Administration), the Department of Commerce (including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the International Trade Administration), the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Homeland Security (including the US Coast Guard), the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
- Facilitating State Collaboration in the Northeast. The Department of Energy (DOE) is funding a multi-state project with New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which will produce a regional roadmap for offshore wind. The roadmap will lay out a cooperative path to develop offshore wind at the large-scale level of deployment needed to achieve economies of scale and establish a regional supply chain with high-quality local jobs.
- Establishing an International Offshore Wind Regulators Forum.DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has begun discussions with offshore wind regulators in the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany regarding the establishment of an International Offshore Wind Regulators Forum. BOEM aims to establish a multilateral group to discuss ways to responsibly expand offshore wind in the U.S. and around the globe. The group will focus on sharing lessons learned, discussing regulatory approaches and best practices, and exchanging scientific and environmental information.
- BOEM Lease Auctions in North Carolina and New Jersey. BOEM recently announced the following two significant actions with respect to its renewable energy leasing program.
- North Carolina. On September 17, 2015, BOEM announced it had completed an important environmental review of three Wind Energy Areas, which total approximately 307,590 acres, offshore North Carolina. Through its Environmental Assessment, BOEM determined that there would be no significant socioeconomic or environmental impacts associated with issuing wind energy leases within those Wind Energy Areas. This finding allows BOEM to move forward with its process for considering a renewable energy lease sale.
- New Jersey. On September 25, 2015, BOEM published a Final Sale Notice announcing that it will offer approximately 344,000 acres offshore New Jersey for commercial wind energy leasing. That lease sale will take place on November 9th and will offer two lease areas. If fully developed, the New Jersey wind energy areas could support about 3.4 gigawatts of commercial wind generation – enough to power about 1.2 million homes.
These actions build upon BOEM’s recent activities to oversee responsible development of offshore renewable energy resources. BOEM has awarded nine commercial wind leases, including seven through its competitive lease sale process (two offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia). To date, competitive lease sales have generated more than $14.5 million in winning bids for over 700,000 acres in federal waters.
- Updating the National Offshore Wind Strategy: In 2011, DOE and DOI jointly released a National Offshore Wind Strategy for the purpose of identifying opportunities to reduce the cost and deployment timelines of offshore wind projects. Given the market and technological changes since then, DOE and DOI are working together to deliver an updated offshore wind strategy in 2016. Informed by extensive stakeholder input and building on DOE’s Wind Vision Report, the updated strategy will address changes in technology, resource potential and electricity demand. The updated strategy will also outline potential initiatives to be implemented over the next five years that will help support the expansion of the offshore wind industry in the United States.
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.