News yesterday that the Department of Energy had awarded $28 million to a range of innovative offshore wind projects around the country came as, dare we say it, a breath of fresh air?
In total, seven projects will be receiving $4 million each. These projects range from “icebreaking” turbines in Lake Erie to an array of six-megawatt floating deep-sea giants off of Coos Bay, Oregon, as well as turbines that employ cutting-edge foundation design off the coast of Virginia.
The investment hopefully signals that the country is ready to become a leader in offshore wind technology, and is serious about its commitment to an industry that is still in its infancy in the United States (though it’s well-established overseas).
Much of the attention in recent years has been focused on the opportunity of offshore wind in the Atlantic. But these latest projects, which dot both coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and even the Great Lakes, demonstrate the wide-ranging abundance of the country’s wind resources.
An economic analysis prepared for the Department of Energy found that by 2030 the domestic offshore wind industry could create 200,000 jobs, bring in over $70 billion in annual investments and create 4,000 gigawatts of clean power. That is enough to power the entire United States four times over.
Oceana ocean advocate Nancy Sopko lauded the DOE’s announcement of the awards:
"It’s heartening to see the administration take the reins in investing in America's clean energy future. These awards provide much-needed support to a growing and promising industry that will provide clean, renewable energy, while helping to slow the effects of global climate change, creating thousands of good-paying domestic jobs, and making us leaders in the global clean energy market,"
But the offshore wind industry still faces hurdles. Chief among them is the threat of the expiration of the Investment Tax Credit, a financing tool crucial to luring investment to the industry and that must be renewed by Congress by the end of the year. If the ITC is allowed to expire on December 31 it would severely impede the success and promise of an industry that is just getting off the ground.
“Renewing the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is critical to stimulating private investment in offshore wind. It’s time that Congress extends the ITC to jumpstart an offshore wind industry in the U.S. so that we can finally begin to reap all of the environmental and economic benefits of this domestic clean energy resource,” said Nancy Sopko.
Learn more about the untapped wealth of offshore wind in the United States, which can provide cleaner, more affordable energy and more jobs than offshore oil, and tell your representatives in Congress to support offshore wind by extending the Investment Tax Credit.
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