US to Hold Seven Offshore Wind Auctions in Next Three Years

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) plans to organise up to seven new offshore wind lease sales by 2025, according to the country’s Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

Offshore wind auctions are expected to be held for Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, Central Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico, as well as offshore the Carolinas, California, and Oregon to meet the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of installing 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030.

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An image showing Proposed leasing schedule for offshore wind in the US
Proposed leasing schedule for offshore wind in the US

“The Interior Department is laying out an ambitious roadmap as we advance the Administration’s plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future”, Secretary Haaland said. “This timetable provides two crucial ingredients for success: increased certainty and transparency. Together, we will meet our clean energy goals while addressing the needs of other ocean users and potentially impacted communities. We have big goals to achieve a clean energy economy and Interior is meeting the moment”.

BOEM is currently working on refining its process for identifying additional areas that may be suitable for offshore wind energy leasing, after recently advancing a site in the Humboldt Bay as a Wind Energy Area and launching consultation on two new areas adjacent to the Morro Bay Call Area.

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“We are working to facilitate a pipeline of projects that will establish confidence for the offshore wind industry”, said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “At the same time, we want to reduce potential conflicts as much as we can while meeting the Administration’s goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. This means we will engage early and often with all stakeholders prior to identifying any new Wind Energy Areas”.

BOEM is also considering innovative lease stipulations consistent with the goals and objectives of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, such as lessee reporting requirements on efforts to minimise conflicts with other ocean users; mechanisms for project labor agreements; and investments in the US domestic supply chain, according to the US Department of Interior (DOI). Such stipulations were included in the New York Bight Proposed Sale Notice announced in June of this year.

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As part of the country’s offshore wind target for 2030 and the goal to accelerate offshore wind development, BOEM has sped up the permitting processes since the beginning of this year, backed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), with which BOEM entered into an agreement earlier this year to support planning and reviewing renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

After completing its review of a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the Vineyard Wind project earlier this year, BOEM is currently reviewing nine additional COPs with plans to complete the review of at least another six by 2025, for a total of at least 16 COP reviews representing more than 19 GW of clean energy, the DOI said.

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The development, construction, and operation of offshore wind farms could bring opportunities worth billions of dollars to the US offshore wind supply chain, according to a report published this month by the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW), an independent project at the University of Delaware.

The report estimates that the US growing offshore wind industry and several states’ commitment to procuring significant amount of offshore wind capacity by 2030 could bring a USD 109 billion revenue opportunity to businesses in the supply chain over the course of the next decade.

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SIOW’s analysis considered the plans in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Virginia, leaving out the states that have targets for offshore development but do not yet have procurements mandates, such as North Carolina, California, and Maine.