The first major offshore wind project in the United States was approved on Tuesday, May 11th. It will consist of 84 wind turbines and generate enough energy to power 400,000 homes.
While the wind industry has been booming in the US, it has been solely on land. Offshore projects have suffered because states assign contracts to electric companies, but the offshore water is controlled by the federal government.
Thus, it can take a long time before an agreement is reached. And in most cases, they are not. In fact, the previous administration outright denied permits for offshore wind projects.
However, that seems to be changing.
What About Existing Offshore Wind Farms?
It’s true that the US currently has two existing offshore farms.
However calling either of them a “farm” is a stretch, and referring to them as major is an even bigger stretch.
In reality, the two of them combined only generate 42 MW of electricity. While the new project will generate 800 MW of power. It completely dwarfs the two existing farms.
It’s even more pitiful when compared to other countries in the world. For instance, Scotland generated 97% of its electricity from offshore wind or 31.8 TWh of electricity.
Why Aren’t There More Offshore Wind Farms in the US?
With such a meager offering of offshore wind available in the US, the question must be asked, why aren’t there more?
As stated earlier, the permit process is very confrontational. The electric contracts are granted by the state to specific companies, while the actual land usage (ocean access) is granted by the federal government.
Thus, if one side decides to not proceed, nothing can be built. And that’s what happened for the last four years.
There are other factors at play. For instance, there is not a single ship within the US that is large enough to handle offshore turbines. As a reminder, these turbines are about on average 400 feet tall and weigh 450 tons.
Another reason is pushback from the fishing industry, beachside residence owners, and boating enthusiasts. These structures will have an impact on all three, which causes state officials to say “no” to these plans.
That said, the industry is about to grow massively in the next ten years.
More Offshore Wind Projects on the Way
The current administration has already laid out goals for the US to generate 30,000 MW of electricity from offshore wind by 2030. Thus, it is safe to say that many more projects will be approved in the future.
To incentivize this push, the administration will be contributing $12 billion in capital investments annually. On top of this other major banking firms, like JP Morgan, will be offering trillions in investment opportunities for green projects.
These projects will also play a key role in creating more jobs to recover from Covid-19. On top of building wind turbines, the US will also need to build massive boats that can haul the turbines off the coast.
In total, this project alone is expected to generate over 3,600 new jobs. And this is only the beginning.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.