North Carolina joins other East Coast states in push for 36 gigawatts of offshore wind

North Carolina joins other East Coast states in push for 36 gigawatts of offshore wind

Energize Weekly, June 16, 2021

North Carolina is the latest state to set big offshore wind power goals – 2.8 gigawatts (GW) of generation by 2020 and 8 GW by 2040 – joining seven other East Coast states in the push to exploit the ocean resource.

The eight states are looking collectively to bring online a total of 36.7 GW of offshore wind generating capacity by 2040.

The Biden administration has set a target of 30 GW of offshore wind power by 2030 and is priming the pump with $3 billion in U.S. Department of Energy loans and $230 million in infrastructure funds for port development.

“Offshore wind power will help North Carolina create jobs and generate economic development while helping us transition to a clean energy economy,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in issuing an executive order, June 9, creating an offshore wind task force.

The order directs the North Carolina Department of Commerce to name a clean energy economic development coordinator and establish the task force.

The proposed 8 GW of wind generation would be enough to provide 2.3 million homes with electricity and is a key component in North Carolina’s plan to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 70 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The generation targets are among the most ambitious among the states and comes after the governors of North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperatively promote, develop and expand offshore wind energy and its industrial supply chain.

Three other states with the biggest offshore wind generation targets are New Jersey, Virginia and New York.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has set a target of 7.5 GW of offshore wind power by 2035, and the state Board of Public Utilities is expected to award a 2.4 GW of contracts this month. The state has already given the go-ahead for 1.1 GW of offshore generating capacity.

Virginia passed the Clean Economy Act in April 2020 requiring the state to have a carbon-free electricity supply by 2045. The act also included a target of 5.2 GW offshore wind power by 2034.

In addition, the state created the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority to facilitate, coordinate and support the offshore wind industry.

There are already five active offshore wind development projects in New York State totaling 4.3 GW, with a goal of 9 GW by 2035, enough to power 6 million homes.

“Offshore wind energy is poised to become a major source of affordable, renewable power for New York,” according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

While not adopting targets as big as New York or North Carolina, states up and down the eastern seaboard are enacting offshore wind policies and programs.

Maryland, through its renewable portfolio standard for electricity generation, has a target of 1.2 GW of offshore wind, in addition to the 368 megawatts (MW) from two offshore wind projects already approved by state regulators.

The Connecticut legislature set a goal of 2 GW of offshore wind by 2030, and a $157 million public-private partnership is set to turn New London’s Gateway Terminal into an offshore wind center. One of the key partners is the Danish company Ørsted, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind projects.

Ørsted is also developing a wind project staging area at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal in Norfolk, Virginia.

In Massachusetts, a bipartisan bill, which passed the legislature and was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in March, aims to add 2.4 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2027, in addition to the 1.6 GW for 2027 already bid. The state is also trying to develop an offshore wind manufacturing and staging center at the New Bedford Marine Commercial Terminal.

On May 11, the federal government issued final approvals for the Vineyard Wind project, 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts waters. It would be the first utility-scale offshore wind farm with 62 turbines and 800 MW of capacity.

Rhode Island is home to the nation’s first offshore wind project, the 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm, which went into operation in 2016. The state has issued its second offshore wind contract for 400 MW from the Wind Revolution project, slated to be built south of Martha’s Vineyard, and is considering adding another 600 MW.

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