The White House and 11 East Coast state governors on Thursday forged a new partnership to establish national supply chains for offshore wind farms and related infrastructure. The new federal-state partnership for implementing offshore wind includes governors from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Carolina North, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
As part of the announcement, the Biden administration pledged to facilitate “timely and effective permitting and environmental reviews” for offshore wind projects and lease sales. In the past, permitting has been a major bottleneck in moving offshore wind projects forward.
Crucially, President Joe Biden has also taken steps to ease another major bottleneck: securing the specialized vessels needed to erect turbines as tall as skyscrapers in the open sea. Projects are competing for time. with the few installation vessels available worldwide, which number just over 30. The United States faces additional restrictions due to the Jones Act, which stipulates that vessels traveling between two points in the United States must be built, owned, manned and registered in the United States.
The first-ever Jones Act-compliant vessel built in the United States is expected to be completed next year. To accelerate the construction of more vessels, Biden today announced priority funding for offshore wind vessels. They will be designated as “vessels of national interest” by the maritime administration of the Ministry of Transport.
The Biden administration is also developing an “offshore wind supply chain roadmap” to determine the steps needed to meet state and federal wind energy goals. Biden plans to expand U.S. offshore wind capacity from 42 megawatts today to 30,000 by 2030. That 2030 goal should be enough clean energy capacity to power 10 million homes.
To get there, the United States will have to build many more wind farms. An initial analysis released in March found that the White House goal would require the construction of 2,100 wind turbines and foundations, as well as five to six installation vessels and a fleet of other types of specialized vessels. The United States will also have to lay 6,800 miles of cables to connect distant turbines to the homes they will power ashore. According to the March report, achieving all of this will require between 12,300 and 49,000 full-time workers on average per year.
Meanwhile, the 11 governors joining the partnership plan to work with the Biden administration to address issues that cross state lines. These issues range from construction of transmission lines to fisheries management. The impact of offshore wind on local fishing industries has been a sore point that states will need to address as part of their clean energy efforts.
So far, the few offshore wind farms in the United States are on the East Coast, including much larger projects currently in development. But President Biden has decided to open up waters along the West Coast and the Gulf Coast, so today’s announcement mentions that states in those regions could join the partnership in the future. .
The Biden administration’s offshore wind dreams are part of a larger mission to slow climate change. The United States plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to near zero by 2050, in part by having the electric grid run entirely on clean energy by 2035.
There is also growing momentum for offshore wind outside the United States. Global offshore wind investment spending is expected to more than double by the end of the decade, reaching more than $100 billion, according to a forecast released earlier this week by Norwegian firm Rystad Energy.