The urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and transition to cleaner sources of energy is evidenced by the scientific community daily, most recently with news that the level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere reached its highest levels ever recorded. Fortunately, we already have a sustainable tool to protect the oceans and achieve a cleaner energy future: offshore wind.
Harnessing the extensive offshore wind resources that blow across America’s oceans and deploying them at scale is one solution to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and decarbonize our energy systems. With national goals to achieve 30 gigawatts of deployed offshore wind by 2030, a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035, and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050, U.S. offshore wind will play a vital role in driving the country toward the economic benefits that come with a clean energy future.
The northeastern U.S. coastline has been nicknamed “the Saudi Arabia of wind” due to its untapped potential to boost domestic energy production and the economy in ways previously unimagined. That vision became one step closer to reality earlier this year with a record-shattering offshore wind auction in the New York Bight (the roughly triangular indentation, regarded as a bight, along the Atlantic coast, extending northeasterly from Cape May Inlet in New Jersey to Montauk Point on the eastern tip of Long Island).
Winning bids for the six lease areas of the New York Bight totaled $4.37 billion, demonstrating the interest, confidence and demand for this new industry, ushering in a new era for offshore wind.
Utilizing our nation’s untapped offshore wind resources will not only be beneficial to our planet, but it will create thousands of high-skilled U.S. jobs and deliver reliable, clean energy to more Americans. The lease areas in the New York Bight alone could accommodate up to 7,000 megawatts of new offshore wind development — enough to power more than 2 million homes. From an emissions reduction standpoint, these offshore wind projects could prevent the release of nearly 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, the equivalent of removing 3.9 million cars from the road.
As offshore wind makes is mark in the United States, the economic impacts will be felt throughout the country, not just along the coastlines where the turbines would generate clean energy. It will also accelerate economic opportunities for American manufacturing, construction and supply chains across the nation, along with prompting critical investment and upgrades to our nation’s ports, which will serve as strategic hubs for the burgeoning industry. For example, steel sourced from West Virginia and Alabama is currently being used to construct the nation’s first offshore wind turbine installation vessel in a shipyard in Texas.
An American Clean Power Association analysis about the economic impacts of future offshore wind development in seven proposed lease areas within the Outer Continental Shelf, including the New York Bight, concluded that such development would support 40 gigawatts of new offshore wind projects, which would represent over $120 billion of clean energy investment. The analysis further found that realizing the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s “leasing path forward” plan could create up to 128,000 jobs during construction and support an additional 48,000 jobs in operations and maintenance roles, in the supply chain and in surrounding communities during the life of the offshore projects.
For too long, the United States has lagged other countries in offshore wind development. With continued bold leadership, the United States can tap into offshore wind’s robust potential and advance as a global renewable energy leader and protect its oceans and achieve a more sustainable, carbon-free future.
Heather Zichal is CEO of American Clean Power, a federation of renewable energy companies. Read the original and complete version of this article on the organization’s website at this link: https://bit.ly/3vrUgEV