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Interior auctions 7 new offshore wind leases

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Federal regulators will auction up to seven new offshore wind leases by 2025 in a bid to expand the industry’s geographic footprint and meet President Biden’s climate goals, the Secretary of State said. Interior Deb Haaland this afternoon.

The plan is potentially important. Biden has set a target to install 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, but experts to say the United States will find it difficult to achieve this goal without opening up new expanses of ocean for development. Haaland’s announcement, made at an industry conference in Boston, marks an attempt in this direction.

The developers are currently planning 16 projects along the east coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts. As part of Interior’s plan, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will auction leases for the first time in the Gulf of Maine and Gulf of Mexico and near California and Oregon.

Lease sales will also take place in areas where proposed wind farms are already making progress, such as New York Bight, south of Long Island and in the mid-Atlantic.

“This multi-year leasing roadmap demonstrates Interior’s commitment to advancing offshore wind. We want to do our part to inspire industry confidence and investment opportunities,” said Haaland.

The Biden administration is likely to face stiff opposition to its rental plans. Commercial fishermen are fiercely opposite plans for more wind development in the New York Bight, a valuable digging ground. In Maine, lobster fishermen surrounded a survey boat to trace the course of a transmission line earlier this year.

The challenges are different in the Pacific Ocean, where the waters are much deeper than in the Atlantic and developers will have to use floating turbines, a relatively new innovation. (Energy wire, September 29).

Floating turbines represent only 79 megawatts of the nearly 33,000 MW of offshore wind capacity installed worldwide. But a boom in this infrastructure is coming. Some 26,000 MW of floating turbines are planned worldwide, according to at the service of energy.

The White House has also had to iron out its rental plans in California with the Department of Defense, which is conducting training exercises in the Pacific and has raised questions about rental plans there. An agreement between BOEM and DOD was reached earlier this year (PM E&E News, May 25).

The administration is studying proposals to try to minimize conflicts with other ocean users. New leases may include provisions that require developers to work with other ocean users, such as fishermen; use union labor; and purchase US-made turbine components.

In comments to the American Clean Power Association’s offshore wind conference, Haaland said the administration wanted to provide developers with a clear path forward while considering the needs of other ocean users.

“We want to meet this administration’s ambitious conservation and clean energy goals while meeting the needs of other ocean users and communities,” Haaland said.

She then challenged the developers to think about “the impact within your profit models”.

“The jobs you create will improve people’s lives. They can help families buy their own homes. They can help parents save for their children’s college education. They can help ensure that people have fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink. They can uplift entire communities, ”Haaland said.

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