Biden reveals audacious offshore wind power plan for 2030 and beyond

The Biden Administration is encouraging a huge investment into wind power, setting aggressive 2030 targets for offshore wind turbines that should see thousands installed in US waters. The goal, President Biden announced today, is to have 30 Gigawatts – or 30,000 megawatts – of offshore wind power generation deployed by the end of the decade.

That's sufficient power for more than 10 million American homes for a year, the White House says. It would also contribute to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions from traditional power generation, potentially equal to 78 million metric tons of the climate-changing gas.

"Meeting this target will trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment in projects on both U.S. coasts, create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs, with more than 44,000 workers employed in offshore wind by 2030 and nearly 33,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity," the White House said today in a statement about the new policy.

It's a considerable undertaking, with implications for manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. The expectation is that each major component of a wind farm – from nacelles, blades, towers, foundations, and subsea cables – will require one to two new US factories. It'll also involve port upgrades, and a huge uptick in steel consumption: around 7 million tons of the metal.

As for where these offshore wind farms will be located, that'll in part be down to decisions by the Department of Interior (DOI). Its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will review at least 16 Construction and Operations Plans, the White House says, by 2025. In total, that's expected to represent more than 19 Gigawatts of power.

Beyond that, meanwhile, there'll be even more ambitious targets. By 2050, the administration says, the goal is 110 Gigawatts of offshore wind power. That would be sufficient for more than 36 million American homes.

The US isn't alone in looking to large-scale green energy production, of course. Earlier this year, Denmark announced it would be undertaking construction of the world's first artificial wind energy hub, a so-called "energy island" to be built in the North Sea. The artificial island will be constructed around 50 miles offshore, equipped with vast 850+ foot tall turbines, and capable of providing 3-10 Gigawatts of power.

Like the Danish project, the US is looking to ensure whatever is built won't have an undue ecological impact, or indeed harm industries like fishing. There'll be more than $1m in US grants for research proposals looking at how offshore renewable energy can impact fishing and coastal communities, including around ocean co-use. Further funding will look at how ports and the communities around them could be modernized, both to support offshore wind power generation with things like storage areas, and to tackle issues of climate change and environmental justice.

Initially, the focus is a newly-named priority Wind Energy Area in he New York Bight, between Long Island and the New Jersey Coast. That's expected to see a lease sale in late 2021 or early 2022 for a new wind farm in the shallow waters there.