On Thursday, the Biden administration unveiled plans to build floating wind tower platforms in the deep ocean, which could power millions of homes and significantly increase offshore wind in the United States.
Sites in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of California and Oregon would be targeted under the proposal, as well as those in the Atlantic in the Gulf of Maine.
By 2035, President Joe Biden wants to use floating platforms to install up to 15 gigawatts of electricity, which would be enough to power 5 million households. The administration had already set a target of 30 GW of offshore wind power by 2030, secured to the ocean floor using conventional technologies.
There are now only a small number of floating offshore platforms in existence, and they are all located in Europe. However, according to authorities, the technology is advancing and may soon make the United States a leader in offshore wind.
The promotion of offshore wind is a component of Biden’s campaign to support sustainable energy and combat global warming. By 2030, Biden promises to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in half. A climate and tax plan he signed last month will invest approximately $375 billion over ten years in advancing electric vehicles, accelerating the development of alternative energy sources like hydrogen, and accelerating renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
At a news conference on Thursday, White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said, “Today we’re launching efforts to seize a new opportunity — floating offshore wind — which will let us build in deep water areas where turbines can’t be secured directly to the sea floor, but where there are strong winds that we can now harness.”
According to McCarthy and other authorities, deepwater regions in the Pacific in particular have the potential to significantly increase the U.S.’s use of offshore wind energy.
McCarthy recognized that the technology for floating is still in its infancy. However, she said that “coordinated initiatives” by federal and state authorities, together with the help of the private sector, could put the United States in a position to “lead the world in floating offshore wind and bring offshore wind jobs to additional regions of our nation, including the West Coast.”
According to authorities, three pilot projects are planned: two off the coasts of northern and central California, and a third in southern Oregon.
According to Oregon Governor Kate Brown, California and her state have some of the greatest wind resources in the world, but due to the depth of the ocean floor along the West Coast, floating platforms are essential to their development.
The revelation, according to Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association, is a “game changer” that will encourage investment in a new domestic supply chain and enable the United States to take the lead in this burgeoning technology. In addition to the incentives included in the comprehensive climate and tax package, Zichal stated that she anticipates a sharp decline in offshore wind development costs, enabling the deployment of sustainable energy at the scale required to combat climate change.
The bipartisan infrastructure package that Vice President Biden signed last year includes funds from the Energy Department’s almost $50 million announcement for research, development, and demonstration projects to support floating offshore wind platforms. According to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, costs for floating offshore wind energy are expected to drop by 70% to $45 per megawatt hour by 2035.
“We believe the private sector will rapidly recognize the great opportunity here to not only increase the number of offshore wind resources that can be used by the nation but to also establish the United States as a global leader in offshore wind manufacture and deployment,” she added.
According to Granholm, new technology for floating platforms “means there’s tremendous possibility for increased energy security,” affordability, “and of course tens of thousands of good-paying in-demand employment,” including electricians, engineers, shipbuilders, and stevedores.
The Biden administration “is all-in on winning the global contest to lead in this domain and making floating offshore wind a real component of our of our energy mix,” Granholm said. It is for this reason that we have set the “huge, hairy, ambitious aim” of installing 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind by 2035.
The country’s first two sizable offshore wind projects in federal seas have been authorized, according to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and the department has started considering at least ten more. She said that a lease auction for offshore wind off the coasts of New York and New Jersey broke previous records and that a lease sale was also held in North Carolina. By 2025, seven offshore wind leasing auctions are anticipated.
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According to Haaland, more than half of the nation’s offshore wind resources lie in deep oceans where conventional offshore wind foundations are not financially viable. He said, “Floating wind will let us access places formerly not achievable. And this is important because it will enable us to get toward the administration’s target of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.
Off the coast of Scotland, the first floating wind farm in the world has been in operation since 2017. Equinor, a Norwegian company that runs the 30-megawatt Hywind Scotland project, is now constructing a huge, floating offshore wind farm off the coast of Norway to supply power for offshore oil and gas fields.
A representative for Equinor in the United States named Lauren Shane said the business is optimistic about floating offshore wind and would assess potential prospects there. We’re enthusiastic about the growth of offshore wind in the United States, she added.
The administration’s actions were praised by Ørsted, a Danish offshore wind developer with projects in the US.
According to Bryan Stockton, head of regulatory affairs for Ørsted North America, “the administration’s innovation priority is well-placed, and with the right investment and public-private partnerships,” floating platforms “can expand deployment, drive down costs, and bring more clean energy to millions of Americans.”
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