In two months, the US Department of the Interior will auction the rights to build wind turbines in 172 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean off the southeast coast of North Carolina.
The site will be divided into two different rental areas, and the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold an auction on May 11. When built, the site will be able to supply about 1.3 gigawatts of electricity, enough for nearly 500,000 homes.
Both the Biden and Cooper administrations have called offshore wind power a key part of efforts to limit the impacts of climate change because it can generate electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. Biden has set a national goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, while Cooper has set a national goal of 2.8 gigawatts of offshore wind generation by 2030 and 8 gigawatts by 2040.
In a report, US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said: “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to supporting a robust clean energy economy, and the upcoming Carolina Long Bay offshore wind energy auction. provides another great opportunity to strengthen our offshore wind industry while creating a well-paying union. works.”
As part of its review of the Wilmington East site, BOEM has agreed to reduce the area available for lease by approximately 14%, from nearly 200 to approximately 172 square miles. The agency said it made the decision to avoid conflict with other ocean users and to “minimize environmental impacts”.
In the final lease area, BOEM BOEM removed all portions of the lease with 20 miles of the North Carolina coast, eliminating approximately 21 square miles on the north side of the lease. The agency also removed approximately 6.7 square miles on the southeast edge of the rental site to avoid conflict with a proposed U.S. Coast Guard shipping path.
Initial reactions to the announcement among environmental groups working in North Carolina have been positive.
Randy Sturgill, a senior field representative for Oceana, a nonprofit ocean conservation organization, said in a statement that the organization is excited about the possibility of renewable energy and jobs.
“It’s critical that we move away from fossil fuels that cause climate change and toward clean energy like offshore wind, and our oceans can play an important role in that change,” said Sturgill, who lives in North Carolina. , in a press release.
BOEM also said its notice of sale is designed to encourage the development of a wind power supply chain, including offering a 20% credit to bidders who agree to invest in workforce training. wind farm and supply chain development.
Additionally, bid winners will be required to develop communication and engagement plans with multiple groups near the site, including agencies, ocean users, tribal nations, and other underserved communities.
In a statement, Amanda Lefton, Executive Director of BOEM, said: “BOEM is committed to ensuring that any development offshore of North Carolina is done responsibly, in a way that avoids or minimizes potential impacts on ocean and ocean users in the region.”
How long does it take to build a wind farm?
A lease does not mean that construction on the site is imminent. The winning bidder(s) will still need to submit permit applications and environmental documents
For example, Avangrid obtained the rights to develop a wind power rental area off Corolla in 2017. Since then, the company has been conducting geographic surveys and developing plans for the site. BOEM is reviewing the company’s construction and operating plan and its economic impact statement, with an expected completion date of August 2023.
The Biden administration said last month that it had received $4.37 billion in deals for six domains totaling 488,000 acres off the coast of New York and New Jersey.
The Biden administration has argued that expanding wind power will create new jobs and new supply chains. He estimates that if Biden’s wind power production targets are met, more than 44,000 workers will be employed by the industry by 2030 and nearly 33,000 jobs will be supported in surrounding communities.
At this rate, the administration also projects that wind energy will power 10 million American homes a year and reduce C02 emissions by 78 million metric tons.
Amid soaring fuel prices and in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has argued that there is an urgent need to reduce US dependence on the oil and gas and to increase its production of renewable energy.
“If we do more to invest in clean energy, more to invest in other energy sources, that’s exactly what we can do to prevent this from happening again in the future,” the agency said. White House press secretary Jen Psaki.old reporters earlier this month.
This story was produced with the financial support of 1Earth Fund, in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, as part of a freelance journalism fellowship program. The N&O retains full editorial control of the work.
This story was originally published March 25, 2022 8:30 a.m.