Clean Energy Primer: Offshore Wind
Last year marked the third-strongest year for domestic wind power development. Wind developers added over 9,000 megawatts wind power to overall U.S. capacity. That’s 20 percent over the progress made in 2018, which sets 2020 on a course for strong progress in wind power.
Now there are almost 60,000 wind turbines in operation across the U.S. These turbines account for over 100,000 MW of energy. And more recently, offshore wind development has become a viable source of further expansion for the growing wind power industry—more on this opportunity in an op-ed last year in Bloomberg Law.
The Block Island Wind Farm—the nation’s first offshore wind project—started up in 2016. Located off the coast of Rhode Island, the long-awaited project only arrived after years of work. It was developed by Deepwater Wind, a company specializing in offshore wind power construction. Now the five-turbine, 30-MW project powers nearby communities with clean affordable power. The Block Island Wind Farm has even become a popular fishing destination.
Although there is only one U.S. offshore wind development in operation, there are plenty more in the planning stages. At the close of 2019, there were over 26,000 MW in federal lease areas issued for offshore wind. The federal government sees the potential in offshore wind and has shown support for coastal states creating a stronger emphasis on the new power source.
The expansion of U.S. offshore wind capabilities will be a boon for coastal regions that do not have enough space for wind power developments on land. Texas and Iowa—the two states leading the U.S. in wind power capacity—have seen substantial benefit from focusing on the renewable resource.
Texas is by far the national leader in wind energy. Last year, Texas installed wind turbines totaling four gigawatts, far more than any other state. As of 2018, the Texas wind industry directly employed approximately 26,000 people, up from 25,000 the year before. The overall investment in the Lone Star State’s wind industry equals 46.5 billion.
Iowa comes in second in the nation for wind power development. Wind power generation in the state doubled between 2010 and 2015 Now wind power accounts for a third of Iowa’s total power generation.
These conservative-led states have provided the blueprint for the coastal states—jobs, economic growth, supply chains, even tourism. With more emphasis on offshore wind in the U.S., states on the coasts will be able to benefit from wind power just like the states who have a bit more room for energy developments. These new wind power capabilities are just another example of energy innovation’s ability to benefit the lives of everyday Americans.