Louisiana Sets 5 GW Offshore Wind Target in Its First-Ever Climate Action Plan

The US state of Louisiana has set a target of 5 GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2035 in its first ever Climate Action Plan, which was unanimously approved by the state’s Climate Initiatives Task Force on 31 January.

Louisiana’s Climate Action Plan contains 28 strategies and 84 specific actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the entire state economy, while positioning the state to tap into the job growth and economic opportunities brought by the energy transition industries.

The action on offshore wind (Action 1.3.) concerns strategic planning for offshore wind development with a near-term goal of prioritising strategic planning for outreach, workforce, and impacts assessments.

“Given the availability of wind power as a potential energy resource from the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana’s advantage as a strong offshore energy producing state, and the economic development opportunity that wind power presents, Louisiana should continue collaboration across sectors and develop plans for the accelerated implementation of offshore wind power generation”, the Plan states.

The Plan proposes enactment of the offshore wind power generation goal of 5,000 MW by 2035 which requires strategic collaboration across Louisiana’s state agencies and the federal government, transmission planning agencies, energy regulators, utilities, and the private sector to take additional steps to advance the development of offshore wind power generation.

“To spur large-scale, responsible development of this energy resource, efforts should prioritize early and repeated stakeholder outreach, strategic planning for anticipated transmission and workforce needs, and improving the understanding of potential environmental and social impacts and opportunities to avoid, address, or capitalize on them”, Louisiana’s Climate Initiatives Task Force says in the Plan.

The state’s Climate Action Plan comes shortly after the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced it was preparing a draft environmental assessment (EA) for offshore wind activities in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where the agency is looking to narrow the identified wider area before advancing any Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) for leasing.

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The US Department of the Interior announced in June 2021 that it would assess potential opportunities to advance offshore wind development on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

The work started with BOEM publishing a Request for Interest (RFI) in the Federal Register on 11 June to assess interest in potential offshore wind development on the OCS. As part of the RFI process, BOEM convened the Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force to help coordinate planning, solicit feedback, and exchange scientific and process information.

The Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force – a regional task force that includes Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas – was established after the State of Louisiana sent a request to BOEM for the establishment of an intergovernmental task force in November 2020.

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The move came after a study released by BOEM and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2020 found a 600 MW offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Mexico, with a commercial operation date of 2030, would bring some 4,470 jobs and USD 445 million in gross domestic product (GDP) during construction and around 150 ongoing jobs and USD 14 million annually during the operational stage.

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