The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy
Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife, and Secure America’s Energy Future
Catherine Bowes and Justin Allegro
As America struggles to revitalize our economy, create jobs, secure an
energy independent future, and protect our communities and wildlife
from the dangers of climate change, one energy source offers a golden
opportunity to power our homes and businesses without creating more
pollution —– Atlantic offshore wind.
DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT: The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife & Secure America’s Energy Future (pdf)
America has some of the best offshore wind resources in the world,
particularly along the Atlantic coast where over 1,300 gigawatts (GW)
of energy generation potential has been identified. Harnessing just a
fraction of our offshore wind resource —- 52 GW —- could power about
14 million U.S. homes with local, pollution-free energy while creating
over $200 billion in new economic activity along the coast.
Offshore wind energy is a real, viable option for America and it’s ready
right now. Europe has been building offshore wind energy for over a
decade, and is currently producing enough electricity from offshore wind
to power 4 million homes. Around the globe, countries are increasingly
looking to their offshore winds as a safe, reliable energy source that has
tremendous economic development benefits.
Here in America, offshore wind energy is at a turning point. While we do
not have a single offshore wind turbine spinning off our shores, recent
actions by the federal government, along with bipartisan leadership from
coastal state officials, have put critical building blocks in place —–
bringing us closer than ever before to finally tapping this massive
domestic energy source. Looking forward, action is urgently needed to
ensure that appropriately-sited offshore wind energy becomes a reality
KEY FINDINGS OF THIS REPORT INCLUDE:
AMERICA HAS MADE SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN ADVANCING
APPROPRIATELY-SITED OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY
The Federal government is leading an ambitious initiative to deliver
offshore wind energy in the Atlantic Ocean, with leases expected
- Task Forces are underway in 10 Atlantic Coast states —– Maine,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland,
Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina —– to ensure
coordination among state, federal, tribal, and local officials
throughout the offshore wind energy leasing process.
- Over 2,000 sq. nautical miles of federal waters with high wind speeds
and low potential conflicts have been designated for wind energy
development off of 6 states. Environmental reviews that have been
completed for these areas have found that no significant impacts will
result from granting leases to developers to
collect data needed for their project designs.
Industry competition is intense, with as many as
11 companies lined up to bid for leases in some
states this year.
- The federal government is also currently
reviewing lease applications for a utility-scale
project in New York, a floating turbine
demonstration project in Maine, and an undersea
transmission line from Virginia to New York.
Many coastal states are leading the way in building a
clean energy future with offshore wind:
- After over a decade, the Cape Wind project
proposed for Massachusetts is within sight of the
finish line and expected to begin construction in
2013. Project proposals for state waters in Rhode
Island and New Jersey are also advancing
through the permitting process.
- Three states —– Maine, Massachusetts, and New
Jersey —– have set specific goals for offshore wind
energy generation off their shores.
- Governor Patrick of Massachusetts and Governor
Christie of New Jersey have signed legislation
into law that will facilitate financing solutions and
provide incentives for offshore wind energy
projects. This is precisely the type of leadership
needed along the coast and at the federal level to
jumpstart a robust offshore wind industry in
America. Governor O’Malley has been pushing for
a similar measure in Maryland, which is expected
to be considered by the state legislature in 2013.
- Nine states along the coast —– from Maine to
Delaware —– have prioritized clean energy by
requiring a certain percentage of the state’s
power be generated from renewable sources. The
New England Governors recently signed an
agreement to pursue a coordinated strategy to
purchase renewable sources.
- Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Jersey
have pursued critical research and planning
efforts to facilitate sound siting decisions, and
similar efforts are underway in New York and
OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY CAN BE
DEVELOPED IN A MANNER THAT PROTECTS
- Europe has been producing energy from its
offshore wind resources for over two decades,
and has been able to avoid and minimize many of
the impacts to wildlife. For example, Danish
research shows that birds have a strong
tendency to avoid offshore wind energy turbines.
While conditions are different here in the U.S,
initial research on birds, bats, sea turtles, and
marine mammals off our coast suggests that we
can achieve the same result if leasing decisions are
based on sound science and informed by key
experts and stakeholders. Specifically, data shows
that bird density is significantly lower in offshore
environments farther from shore.
- All energy sources have some impact on wildlife,
but research shows that appropriately-sited and
mitigated offshore wind energy is a much safer bet
than fossil fuels.
A THRIVING OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRY WILL
BE AN ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE FOR AMERICA.
- America’s wind industry currently employs over
75,000 people, and research shows that
approximately 300,000 jobs and over $200 billion
in new economic activity could result from a
robust American offshore wind industry.
- In addition to supporting thousands of jobs to
design, construct, and operate offshore wind
energy projects, substantial industrial
manufacturing jobs will be needed to produce
turbines, foundations, blades, sub-stations, and
cables along the coast.
Over 40,000 people are currently employed in the
offshore wind industry in Europe, with over
300,000 jobs expected by 2020.
OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY CAN PROVIDE
AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE POWER WHEN AND
WHERE WE NEED IT MOST
- America’s immense offshore wind resource lies in
close proximity to some of our biggest cities,
presenting an opportunity to utilize clean energy
to meet the growing demand for power along the
- Offshore winds blow strongest during the day and
at other times of peak demand such as heat waves,
as documented by real-time wind monitors off
Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
- Plugging offshore wind into the grid will lead to
lower, more predictable energy prices over time.
For example, the New York Independent System
Operator has found that for every 1,000 MW of
wind on the system, consumers save $300 million
in wholesale energy costs.
- While natural gas prices are currently at historical
lows, the region needs to make energy investment
decisions for the next several decades. By
diversifying the region’s energy portfolio, offshore
wind energy presents an opportunity for utilities to
lock in at a known price for the long term, creating
a hedge to protect against future fossil fuel price
- Industry trends driving down the cost of offshore
wind energy include moving toward larger projects
farther offshore in order to access economies of
scale, a higher wind resource, and areas with fewer
URGENT ACTION IS NEEDED TO
BUILD ON THIS MOMENTUM AND
ENSURE THAT OFFSHORE WIND
ENERGY BECOMES A REALITY FOR
State and federal leaders should take the following
actions to bring this new clean energy source ashore:
- Set a bold goal for offshore wind energy
development in the Atlantic Ocean, in order to
provide clear leadership and vision regarding the
important role offshore wind must play in America’s
energy future and demonstrate that this is a high
priority for the federal government and each
Atlantic Coast state.
- Take decisive action to advance offshore wind
energy development and jumpstart markets for this
emerging industry. Specific actions critically
needed to level the playing field for clean energy
and create an opportunity for offshore wind power
to become a major source of electricity for America
Enact policies requiring stringent pollution
reductions from all power sources, including limits
on carbon pollution and other strong air, water,
and waste management safeguards for the mining
and burning of all fuel sources.
Ensure that offshore wind projects are sited,
constructed, and operated responsibly in order to
protect wildlife and avoid conflicts with other ocean
uses. All offshore wind energy leases must contain
clear and enforceable requirements to protect
wildlife, and key state and federal agencies must
have sufficient resources to collect needed data and
manage the leasing process for multiple areas along
Increase stakeholder coordination and public
engagement throughout the process to achieve all
of the above. Offshore wind energy development
decisions should be coordinated with federal, state,
tribal, and regional coastal and marine spatial
planning efforts in a manner that is consistent with
the goals of America’s National Ocean Policy and
includes significant stakeholder and public input.
- Prioritize renewable energy generation —– and
offshore wind power specifically —– through
policies such as a renewable electricity standard,
in order to send a clear market signal to
encourage investment in offshore wind energy.
- Extend critically-needed tax incentives including
the federal Investment Tax Credit for offshore
wind, as well as the Production Tax Credit and
Advanced Energy Project Credit needed to
support domestic supply chain manufacturing
opportunities for wind energy.
- Take direct action to secure buyers for offshore
wind power, including pursuing coordinated
procurement strategies among key state and
federal entities. State leadership is particularly
critical for facilitating and approving power
purchase contracts with local utilities.
- Increase funding to the Departments of Energy
and Interior and relevant state agencies to
support needed research and facilitate the
efficient deployment of offshore wind energy, in
order to avoid subsequent impairment of needed
financing and power purchase agreements.
America has made significant progress over the last
two years in pursuing offshore wind energy, but we still
have a long way to go to catch up with the rest of the
world and finally harness our largest untapped energy
source. Leadership by the states and federal
government is critically needed to build on this
momentum if we are to make the most of the golden
energy opportunity sitting right off our shores.