Offshore, Project Development, Wind Power

The “Time is Now” for Offshore Wind in the United States

There can be no question that across the globe, energy systems are transitioning from the old, dirty way of generating electricity to a new clean energy future that embraces carbon-free electricity powered by renewable energy. Add to that the fact that the wind that blows off U.S. coastal waters and in the great lakes could power the country more than two times over and you quickly come to the conclusion that the time is now to develop offshore wind in the U.S.

Renewable energy goals such as New York’s 50 percent renewables by 2030 and Massachusetts’ recent enactment of legislation calling for 1.6 GW of offshore wind energy to be added to the grid by 2030 mean that offshore wind will play a large role in the energy mix of the future.

Offshore wind happens when federal, state and industry come together and commit to it, said Abby Hopper, BOEM’s Director on October 25 at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore Wind Conference and Expo, which took place in Warwick, Rhode Island. BOEM is the “landlord of the sea” said Hopper, adding that the organization has issued 11 commercial leases for exploration and potential development in U.S. waters to date. A New York lease is expected to go up for auction in November and one for North Carolina waters in early 2017.

BOEM and DOE have been working on the federal part of the three-part equation Hopper mentioned. In September the two organizations issued the National Offshore Wind Strategy – a report that includes 34 actions that the government can take to ensure the viability of this new industry.

“The time really is now. We are about to have an election and there will be a transition. That is why you have the offshore wind strategy,” she said, urging attendees to take ownership of the strategy and hold federal agencies accountable to follow through with it.

Offshore Event Attendance Way Up

Over 600 developers, supply chain companies, investors, policy makers, and clean energy advocates filled the halls of the conference just as the nation’s first-ever offshore wind farm is on the verge of supplying clean electricity to Rhode Island grid.

“Worldwide leaders are sensing and seeing the opportunity here in the U.S.,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “There’s unprecedented excitement in the industry, it’s palpable, and you can see it here with the increase in the number of attendees and exhibitors. The completion of the Block Island Wind Farm is far more than just a ribbon-cutting — it is the dawn of an entirely new source of U.S. energy,” he said.

“We need to take this moment to recognize the accomplishment of getting America’s first-ever offshore wind farm completed, but we’ve only just begun,” said Nancy Sopko, Manager, Advocacy and Federal Legislative Affairs for AWEA. “We need to dive deeper into how to keep this momentum going. It is incumbent on all of our attendees to find ways to create a thriving U.S. offshore wind industry.”