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File Photo: Teun van den Dries / Shutterstock

First Floating Wind Farm in U.S. Could Be In Gulf of Maine

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1523
August 18, 2022

The Biden Administration is taking steps to advance offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine, which could include a plan to the deploy the first floating wind turbines in U.S. waters.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published two requests for public comment on Thursday in the Federal Register. The first request is meant to gauge public interest in the development of commercial wind energy leases on about 13.7 million acres in the Gulf of Maine. The second seeks to determine whether competitive interest exists for a research area requested by Maine.

Maine’s research application requests 9,700 acres on the Outer Continental Shelf more than 20 nautical miles off the Maine coast. If developed, the research array would comprise up to 12 floating offshore wind turbines capable of generating up to 144 megawatts of renewable energy.

If BOEM does not receive any indications of competitive interest for a lease, the agency will move forward with the research application. However, if one or more indications of competitive interest are submitted, BOEM may decide to move forward with the lease issuance process using competitive leasing procedures. Whether for commercial or research purposes, the site can only accomodate floating turbines.

“As we work to spur offshore wind development and deploy floating offshore wind technology nationwide, BOEM recognizes the rich cultural heritage and ecological importance of the Gulf of Maine region, which is why we are using the best available science and traditional knowledge from ocean users and other stakeholders in our planning and leasing process,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “We are committed to a transparent, inclusive and data-driven process that avoids or minimizes potential conflicts with marine life and ensures all ocean users flourish.”

Offshore wind has been a key component of President Biden’s strategy for combatting climate change and transition the U.S. to renewable energy.

These steps are the latest actions taken by the Biden Administration to advance domestic offshore wind energy, a key component of President Biden’s strategy for combatting climate change and transitioning the U.S. to renewable energy. The administration has set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, and over the past year has approved and celebrated the groundbreaking of the nation’s first two commercial-scale, offshore wind projects in federal waters.

By 2025, the Interior Department plans to hold up to five additional offshore lease sales and complete the review of at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial, offshore wind energy facilities, which would represent more than 22 gigawatts of clean energy. Two offshore wind lease sales have taken place already this year—including the record-setting New York Bight sale and one off the coast of North and South Carolina. Another lease sale is proposed for California waters later this year, while others are also planned for Oregon, the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico.

In June, the White House launched of a new Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership that brought together Governors to deliver more clean, affordable energy and new jobs. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Maritime Administration (MARAD) has also designated offshore wind vessels as “Vessels of National Interest”, a designation meant to catalyze the construction of much-needed offshore wind installation vessels at U.S. shipyards and prioritizes project applications for review and funding through the Title XI Federal Ship Financing Program (Title XI).

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