It’s very big, big problem. This is a signal like we have never had before in the United States on the direction we can take with offshore wind, said Dan Reicher, who was deputy secretary in the Department of Energy of the Clinton administration and now advises Magellan Wind, which develops projects with offshore floating turbines.
I have been in the wind industry for a long time, said Mr Reicher. It’s a repeat of what we did a few decades ago when we stepped up onshore wind power, when it went from a small, niche power source to a common, affordable power source.
Yet there is no guarantee that companies will lease space in federal waters and build wind farms. Once offshore areas are identified, they will undergo extensive federal, state and local reviews. If the potential sites could harm endangered species, conflict with military activities, damage underwater archaeological sites, or harm local industries such as tourism, the federal government could deem them unfit for rental. .
As they have done in response to other offshore wind farms, commercial fishing groups and coastal landowners will likely try to halt the projects. In the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas exploration is a major part of the economy, fossil fuel companies could fight the development of wind power as a threat not only to their local operations, but to the their entire business model.
Making those announcements, and making them in a very political way, without looking at what it means, in what area, when we still don’t know what the effects of these projects will be is really problematic, said Anne Hawkins, chief executive officer of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a coalition of fishing groups. In an ideal world, when you welcome a new industry, you do it in phases, not all at once.
Interior Ministry officials have said they intend to take these considerations into account.
We are working to facilitate a pipeline of projects that will build confidence for the offshore wind industry, said Amanda Lefton, director of the Interior Departments’ Office of Ocean Energy Management. At the same time, we want to minimize potential conflicts while respecting the administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.
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