Biden admin. explores offshore wind in new areas off Carolinas, Gulf Coast

The Biden administration announced plans Thursday to explore commercial offshore wind development in new areas off the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast, while reviewing a proposed wind farm offshore Massachusetts.

The U.S. Dept. of the Interior will propose a lease sale for wind energy development in the Carolina Long Bay area offshore the Carolinas, initiate an environmental review of Mayflower Wind’s proposed project offshore Massachusetts, and request information to assess interest in developing offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico.

The DOI is seeking public feedback on all three initiatives.

“These milestones represent great potential for addressing climate change through a clean, reliable, domestic energy resource while providing good-paying jobs,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

The Carolina Long Bay proposed lease sale area consists of approximately 127,865 acres within the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area, which has the potential for 1.5 GW of offshore wind energy. Bids for the lease area must be submitted by Jan. 3, 2022.

Mayflower Wind’s proposed 147-turbine wind farm offshore Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts will soon receive an environmental review from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The environmental review process is expected to take about two years, at which point BOEM will decide whether or not to approve the Mayflower Wind plan.

BOEM’s call for information for commercial offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico consists of nearly 30 million acres west of the Mississippi River to the Texas/Mexico border.

“The milestones announced today should result in even greater confidence for industry to invest in offshore wind energy development,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “At the same time, we are asking for public input on all of these milestones because we want to do what we can to avoid, reduce or mitigate potential impacts to the marine environment and other ocean users when possible.”

The Biden administration has a goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. Siemens Gamesa announced plans earlier this week to build a $200 million offshore wind blade manufacturing facility in Virginia to serve the U.S. offshore wind industry, which still lags other parts of the world in supply chain maturity.