WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will seek to add deep-sea offshore wind power, a developing technology that is not yet widely used, to its mix of renewable energy sources, administration leaders said Thursday. .
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland told reporters on a call to the White House that their departments would advance efforts to increase capacity and reduce costs for wind platforms. floating offshore vessels that generate electricity above the deep seas.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an agency of the Department of the Interior, will make specific siting decisions later, Haaland said. But the administration is targeting areas off the coasts of Oregon and California and in the Gulf of Maine on the east coast.
Oregon’s most promising site is near Coos Bay in the southern part of the state, said Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who was also on the call.
Existing offshore wind turbines are located in shallow coastal areas and anchored directly to the ocean floor, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said during the press call. Developing floating platform technology to harness wind in deeper waters would release much more potential energy, officials said.
Including areas in deep water, offshore wind could achieve a capacity of more than twice existing U.S. electricity demand, Granholm said. But about two-thirds of that potential capacity is in deep water areas, according to a DOE fact sheet. These areas currently produce virtually no energy in the world.
$50 million to spend
The Department of Energy will spend nearly $50 million to develop offshore wind power in deep water.
The bulk of that funding, $31 million, will go to the ministry’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to develop the floating platform technology.
Energy will also fund a $6.85 million competition for engineers to design floating platforms optimized for large-scale domestic manufacturing and commercialization, according to a White House fact sheet.
Another $3 million from the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Act signed into law last year would be used to develop modeling tools to help design commercial-scale floating offshore wind farms.
And nearly $1 million in spending on infrastructure laws would be used for an analysis of West Coast ports to see where upgrades would be needed to deploy floating offshore wind power.
Part of the department’s goal is to reduce the cost of floating offshore wind by more than 70%.
“The DOE is committed to making floating offshore wind a real part of our energy mix,” Granholm told reporters.
Electricity for 5 million households
The Home Office has set a goal of reaching 15 gigawatts from deep-sea wind sources by 2035, Haaland said. That would be enough power for 5 million homes, she said.
Biden has already pledged to seek 30 gigawatts from all offshore wind by 2030 as part of his goal to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by that year.
“Our goals are ambitious, but they are absolutely necessary,” Haaland said on Thursday. “We can respond by combining innovation with resources and ambition. Nowhere is this more evident than the desirability of a flurrying wind.
The Oregon governor has urged federal leaders to work with coastal communities and industries when building offshore wind infrastructure.
Oregon has long been committed to increasing its renewable energy capacity, but increasing offshore wind power must be balanced with the needs of local communities and industries, Brown said.
Asked about a congressional push to revise federal permitting requirements for energy projects, McCarthy said the administration would be careful in site selections and in the deployment of offshore wind, but also that the administration wanted to obtain the permits “as quickly as possible”.
“This involves ensuring that the sites we choose and the turbine installations are done in a way that protects the species in our environment,” she said. “But also in a way that delivers the kind of clean energy our country needs and is looking forward to as quickly as possible.”
Members of both houses are working to pass legislation this month that would update what critics say are too long processes to get federal approval for energy projects.
Proponents of the changes say several energy sources, including wind and solar, would benefit from a more streamlined process.
But House progressives and other environmental advocates said the changes could weaken protections and give communities less power to challenge energy projects.