US Identifies Eight Offshore Wind Areas Off Four Central Atlantic States

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has identified eight draft Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, which will now be put up for public review and comment.  

BOEM

The areas cover approximately 1.7 million acres and represent a subset of the 3.9 million acres of the Call Area that the Department of the Interior announced for public comment in April.

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After receiving feedback from government partners, ocean users, and stakeholders, BOEM may further modify the final WEAs.

Through the 30-day public comment period that started on 16 November, BOEM is seeking comment on potential conflicts with the draft areas, including with a potential US Coast Guard (USCG) fairway for transiting vessels, commercial fishing, a NASA danger zone, and marine habitat areas.

BOEM intends to further explore these areas with the Department of Defense, USCG, NASA, and other ocean users, such as the fishing industry, to collect additional information that should be considered before finalising the WEAs.

“As BOEM moves forward to identify wind energy areas in the central Atlantic, we continue to prioritize a robust and transparent process, including early engagement with Tribal governments, state and federal agencies and ocean users”, said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton.

“We want to gather as much information and traditional knowledge as possible to help us identify Wind Energy Areas – the offshore areas that are most suitable for commercial wind energy activities while having the fewest apparent environmental and user conflicts”.

Since the announcement of the 2030 offshore wind target of 30 GW shortly after the Biden-Harris Administration took the office in 2021, BOEM has approved the first two commercial-scale offshore wind farms in the US and initiated environmental reviews for ten more projects.

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In February 2022, BOEM held the record-breaking lease sale for the six New York Bight areas that brought USD 4.37 billion to the US Treasury.

Since then, the US has auctioned off areas in Carolina Long Bay and will soon hold its first-ever auction for offshore wind sites in the Pacific as it prepares to open a lease sale offshore California on 6 December. This will also be the first time the country will award leasing right to floating wind projects.

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The US offshore wind target of 30 GW by 2030 is estimated 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.

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.

As part of this ambition, BOEM has put the permitting process on a fast track and is opening new areas for offshore wind auctions.

At the beginning of this month, the agency has designated two WEAs in the Gulf of Mexico, one offshore Texas and one off Louisiana.

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The two areas were slightly reduced in size from their draft versions to address concerns expressed by the Department of Defense and the US Coast Guard regarding shipping, marine navigation, and military operations.

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