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The Benefits of Harvesting Offshore Wind for Renewable Energy


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Recently, the Biden Administration has announced an offshore lease for floating wind farms in the Pacific Ocean, the first of its kind in the Pacific. In addition to several leases already completed in the Atlantic, these projects are designed to help the administration reach a goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind production by 2030, as well as 15 gigawatts of floating wind production by 2035. The most recent leases in the Pacific will have the ability to produce up to 4.5 gigawatts, helping to power over 1.5 million homes. These government investments signal a positive shift in clean energy policy, however more must be done. By using the abundance of offshore winds to provide power, we can drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels as energy resources, making an immediate impact in the fight against climate change.


Data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have the most potential for harnessing wind energy. This is because wind speeds in the open waters of the ocean tend to be more consistent and quick than winds over land masses. Higher winds mean that more electricity can be produced, and NREL data shows that there is potential for more than 4,200 gigawatts of capacity to be produced from offshore winds. The open waters also allow for larger scale construction of turbines which in turn allows developers to produce turbines that can capture more power. The Wind Energy Technologies Office reports that almost eighty percent of power demands in the United States occur in coastal regions as well as the great lakes, which makes offshore wind resources both convenient and necessary.


As developers seek to expand our offshore wind opportunities, we also benefit from the creation of new jobs to help build and maintain this infrastructure. The Offshore Wind Power Conference of 2022 notes that up to 83,000 well-paying renewable energy jobs could be created by 2030, while also attracting up to 57 billion dollars of investment into the US economy. The Biden administration has also attached stipulations that would grant credits to bidders for entering community benefit agreements, and those who make investments in workforce training and supply chain development. Winning bidders are also required to enter into labor agreements, as well as required engagement with Tribes and underserved communities. These are important steps in recognizing the climate injustices many communities have faced, especially indigenous and communities of color.


Offshore wind production is just one way to use our oceans to our advantage. Hydrokinetic solutions, such as developing devices to extract power from ocean waves, or currents to be converted into usable power are still in early development stages but offer promising future sustainability. Offshore solar power production also offers untapped potential with over 70% of earth’s surface covered by oceans. Continued development in offshore opportunities offer a promising future. One in which we can take advantage of the vastness of our oceans to help win the fight against climate change.


 

References


American Clean Power. (October, 18 2022). Offshore WindPower Conference and Exhibition 2022. Retrieved from https://cleanpower.org/offshore-windpower-2022/


Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. (n.d.). Renewable Energy on the Outer Continental Shelf. Retrieved December 2022 , from Bureau of Ocean Energy Management: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/renewable-energy-program-overview


Hartman, L. (2022, August 16). Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Offshore Wind Energy. Retrieved from Wind Energy Technologies Office: https://www.energy.gov/eere/wind/articles/top-10-things-you-didnt-know-about-offshore-wind-energy


Roberts, B. J. (2019, August 22). Annual Average Windspeed at 100 Meters Above Sea Level of North America. Retrieved from National Renewable Energy Laboratory: https://www.nrel.gov/gis/assets/images/wtk-100-north-america-50-nm-01.jpg


U.S. Department of Interior. (2022, October 18). Biden-Harris Administration Announces First-Ever Offshore Wind Lease Sale in the Pacific. Retrieved from Press Releases: https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/biden-harris-administration-announces-first-ever-offshore-wind-lease-sale-pacific


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