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Light and Shadow for U.S. Offshore Wind Power

In the US a second offshore wind project was connected to the grid and has produced the first electricity. However, this success is overshadowed by the current policy of the still acting president Donald Trump, who has put a stop to further offshore development in several coastal states.

Wind energy between light and shadow (Image: Pixabay)Wind energy between light and shadow (Image: Pixabay)

The US has put into operation its second offshore wind farm. As Danish project developer Ørsted announced via Twitter , the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project of energy utility Dominion Energy is now connected to the grid and produces its first electricity.

The two 6 MW wind turbines, manufactured by Siemens Gamesa, were erected 43 kilometres off the east coast of Virginia and will undergo several tests in the coming weeks before regular operation starts. The project is regarded as an important stepping stone for the development of commercial offshore wind energy in the US, as it marks the beginning of further expansion phases in the region (a video of the construction is available on Twitter).

Building on the small project, Dominion Energy plans to develop its large commercial offshore wind project of the same name in three phases, each with a total capacity of 880 megawatts. The first phase will run until 2024, with further phases scheduled to come online in 2025 and 2026, delivering a total of more than 2,600 megawatts of power, enough to supply 650,000 homes with electricity.

From 2020 to the end of 2026, it's estimated that 900 direct and indirect jobs will be created annually during the construction period in Virginia. Once completed, the continued operation of the CVOW project will create 1,100 direct and indirect jobs throughout Virginia. The project is also expected to generate more than $209 million in economic activity and nearly $6 million in local tax revenue for the Hampton Roads area, the Hampton Roads Alliance announced. From the port of this town, the expansion is expected to take place over the coming years.

If going ahead as planned, Virginia should become the US market leader in offshore wind industry. The development of a corresponding industry is expected to start along the entire US East Coast. States from Massachusetts to North Carolina have announced plans to develop offshore wind farms off their coasts, which will also lead to the development of a network of inland suppliers.

Time and again, obstacles are put in the way of the offshore wind industry in the US (Image: Pixabay)

However, bad luck is already looming, as Donald Trump last week announced the extension of a moratorium on offshore drilling in the states of Florida, Georgia and the two Carolinas. Originally intended as an environmental protection measure to prevent further drilling for oil and gas, the ban also affects the offshore wind industry, as the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) of the Department of the Interior has now confirmed, according to Bloomberg. The decree is due to come into force on 1 July 2022 and will apply for 10 years.

This means that during this period, the affected states will not be able to free up more land for lease sales and develop an offshore wind industry. Whether the moratorium may be extended to Virginia has not yet been finally decided.

Existing leases, such as the Avangrid site at Kittyhawk off North Carolina, will not be affected by the decision. Nevertheless, experts fear dramatic consequences for the offshore wind industry.

Erik Milito, President of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), which represents all offshore industries, warned:“Americans are trying to climb back from a historic economic downturn, and today’s announcement places additional offshore energy development out of reach and locks away much needed investment and jobs. Time and time again, we have seen how domestic energy moratoriums only lead to outsourcing of energy production and economic growth as countries such as Russia happily wait in the wings to make up our domestic energy supply gap. The announcement also casts tremendous uncertainty on the outlook for wind offshore North Carolina. Without a clear and stable regulatory horizon, interest and investment in developing offshore wind resources will be diminished.”

According to a recent report by Wood Mackenzie, the designation of additional leased land off the Carolinas' coast could generate 37,000 jobs and wages of $3 billion annually, more than $44.9 billion in total investment and 11.5 GW of electricity in the coming years. Especially in times of massively increasing unemployment due to the COVID-19 disease, Trump's moratorium is another slap in the face for the Americans.

Katrin Radtke
USA, offshore, Donald Trump, moratorium, grid, construction, wind farm, Siemens Gamesa, electricity, coast, drilling, lease, stop, Virginia

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