Federation report outlines offshore wind energy status

A new report from the National Wildlife Federation, “Catching the Wind: State Actions Needed to Seize the Golden Opportunity of Atlantic Offshore Wind Power,” analyzes and compares the actions by Atlantic Coast states toward progress on offshore wind.

Over 1.5 million acres off the Atlantic Coast have already been designated by state and federal officials for offshore wind power development and more are being considered. These areas could produce more than 16,000 MW, making offshore wind an attractive option for states developing plans to shift to clean energy to achieve the targets in Clean Power Plan, a greenhouse-gas reduction plan recently proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The Atlantic Ocean is a clean energy and job-producing goldmine,” said Catherine Bowes, senior manager for climate and energy at the National Wildlife Federation, in a July 10 statement. “With areas along the Atlantic Coast that can power 5 million homes currently available for leasing, it is a critical moment for state leaders to seize this golden opportunity and create a clean energy future powered by American workers that can protect our wildlife and communities from the dangers of climate change.”

In Virginia, the report noted, the table has been set with the leasing to Dominion Virginia Power of 113,000 acres, 23 nautical miles off of Virginia Beach. If fully developed, the Virginia Wind Energy Area is expected to generate at least 2,000 MW. 

“Offshore wind has the best potential to provide a substantial amount of clean energy to the Commonwealth, and to create a very large number of jobs for Virginians,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.

“Virginia is pleased with the advances and evolution of offshore wind and we look forward to the positive steps for our industry and workforce,” said Charles de Cuir, Chairman of the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition.   

“The vast offshore wind resource off our coast can provide tremendous amounts of pollution-free energy; with no fuel costs,” said Sarah Bucci, Campaign Director with Environment Virginia. “A strong commitment by Virginia leaders to offshore wind energy will go a long way to meeting our energy needs and to reduce the carbon pollution that is altering our climate.”  

“Offshore wind power provides Governor [Terry] McAuliffe with a golden opportunity to move Virginia to the forefront of the clean energy wave,” said David Carr, general counsel of the Virginia-based Southern Environmental Law Center. “The proposed demonstration project with just two ‘test’ turbines is not enough when the build-out of the Virginia resource could provide as many as 10,000 clean energy jobs. The Governor must lead the effort to craft state policies that will facilitate a large-scale project in the near term and help address the threats of climate change immediately.”

In Europe, 70 offshore wind projects across 10 countries are currently supporting over 58,000 jobs in both coastal and inland communities, the report said. Today, offshore wind power is a booming global industry with over $20bn in annual investments projected for the next 10 years.

The report said that Massachusetts and Rhode Island are clearly leading the pack in terms of coastal states working on offshore wind development. Maryland is making major progress, while Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Delaware follow with some progress made. Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are taking initial steps with wind research and some development activity.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.