BOEM and NOAA Join Forces on US Offshore Wind

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have signed an interagency memorandum in support of the country’s offshore wind energy ambitions.

Illustration; Dominion Energy; Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) demo project

The new agreement underscores the two agencies’ commitment to responsibly deploy 30 GW of wind energy production capacity in federal waters by 2030 while protecting biodiversity and promoting cooperative ocean use, according to BOEM.

The memorandum will help leverage the responsibilities, expertise, and relationships of both BOEM and NOAA in support of the goal by outlining areas of cooperation and creating a framework to develop future, more detailed agreements related to specific programme areas.

“This agreement is powerful and timely as we face climate change head on. It will help ensure coordination, collaboration, and alignment by NOAA and BOEM at key decision points in support of the Administration’s offshore wind energy goal”, said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “It will also provide specific pathways for NOAA data and services while protecting our ecosystems and marine resources”.

“We are already seeing the impacts of climate change on communities across the country and the ocean resources that we manage. Now is the time to act. Working together, we will further advance offshore wind, which can play a critical role in meeting our country’s energy needs while combating climate change and creating new family supporting jobs”, said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “This agreement and the collaboration between BOEM and NOAA show that fighting climate change and responsible resource management go hand-in-hand”.

The research, planning, and regulatory mechanisms in the offshore wind and clean energy industry will provide for new, good paying jobs while also advancing the scientific understanding of the potential impacts of offshore wind development, BOEM said in a press release.

Surveying, spatial modeling, mapping, oceanographic assessments, and characterisation of ocean regions and jurisdictional boundaries are all critical elements to the successful development of offshore wind, the US federal agency noted.

The US offshore wind target of 30 GW by 2030 was announced at the beginning of last year as a centerpiece of a newly introduced plan by the Biden-Harris Administration to jumpstart offshore wind energy and create tens of thousands of jobs in the sector over the next decade.

The target is expected to support around 77,000 direct and indirect jobs and trigger more than USD 12 billion (around EUR 10.2 billion) per year in capital investment in projects on both US coasts.

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The 2030 target would also unlock a pathway to deploy 110 GW or more of offshore wind capacity by 2050, which would support a total of 135,000 jobs by that time.

In June 2021, BOEM and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) entered into an agreement in support of planning and reviewing renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), helping to speed up the permitting process. The agreement allows USACE to provide BOEM additional scientific and technical resources needed to evaluate offshore wind projects on the OCS.

Their initial focus is on the USACE supporting the review of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial project and the Kitty Hawk project, offshore North Carolina, both now undergoing federal permitting process.