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Stock Photo:Tom Buysse/Shutterstock

New US Effort to Lift Offshore Wind Features Turbines in Pacific

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April 24, 2024

(Bloomberg) —

The Biden administration is taking steps to jump-start the fledgling offshore wind sector, outlining a five-year leasing plan that would include turbines in the far reaches of the Pacific.

As many as 12 auctions are possible through 2028 in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the waters off US territories in addition to near Hawaii, the Interior Department announced Wednesday. 

The offshore wind sector in the US has struggled to overcome a confluence of challenges that has slowed growth on the Atlantic coast. The move by the Biden administration is an attempt to expand the possibilities for development.

Leases sold in the auctions are seen as key to fulfilling President Joe Biden’s goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind nationally by 2030. It’s an ambition that already looks increasingly out of reach, following setbacks for the industry hit hard by inflation, high borrowing costs and supply-chain issues.

“Our offshore wind leasing schedule will provide predictability to help developers and communities plan ahead and will provide the confidence needed to continue building on the tremendous offshore wind supply chain and manufacturing investments that we’ve already seen,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland Haaland said in a statement. The Interior Department has held four auctions since the start of the Biden administration. 

Developers are facing geography-specific challenges in scaling the fledgling industry. The federal government already has leased two areas off the California coast for wind farms, but siting more could be difficult. The depth of Pacific waters make it impossible to install conventional turbines in the ocean floor, while a string of marine sanctuaries along the state’s central coast has placed most of the region off limits to developers. 

© 2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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