In a move to promote the development of offshore wind, the Scottish government has introduced new wind subsidies. Offshore wind is a renewable energy source which will help us transition from polluting fossil fuels to a clean and renewable energy future. For years, Oceana has been working to promote the responsible development of offshore wind energy in the U.S. because we believe that this untapped resource can help mitigate the effects of global climate change and ocean acidification while at the same time boosting our economy with good-paying American jobs.
The first offshore wind turbine in the U.S. was recently deployed off the coast of Maine. The pilot project uses a floating platform with a small wind turbine affixed to a tower. The project is a small, but significant step toward developing an abundant clean energy resource in the U.S.
If you‚Äôre a Marylander like me, this is a time to be proud. The Old Line State has stepped forward, making ocean conservation a priority and providing an example that other states would be wise to follow.
First, Maryland became a leader in developing offshore wind energy by passing The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013, which was signed into law by Governor Martin O‚ÄôMalley this week. The measure will help spur the development of at least 200 megawatts of renewable energy off Maryland‚Äôs coast ‚Äď enough to power about 200,000 homes.
While wind turbines already dot Europe‚Äôs coast, the United States has yet to construct a single offshore wind farm. Maryland‚Äôs legislation marks an important milestone on this country‚Äôs path to a clean ocean energy future.
This victory was made possible by the tireless advocacy of Oceana and a diverse coalition of environmental, faith, business and community groups, all of which recognized the need to transition to this clean and abundant form of energy, and away from fossil fuels. Special thanks to Chesapeake Climate Action Network, National Wildlife Federation, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Maryland Sierra Club and Environment Maryland for helping to pressure lawmakers to take this first step towards a greener energy portfolio for the state.
Second, both the Maryland House and Senate passed a bill to prohibit the sale and trade of shark fins. Pending the signature of the Governor, Maryland will become the first state on the East Coast to adopt such a ban. Approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year, primarily to support the demand for shark fin soup. While shark finning is banned in the U.S, this brutal practice‚ÄĒwhich involves slicing the fins off a live shark and then dumping it back in the water where it is left to die‚ÄĒis still occurring around the world. By stopping the shark fin trade in state, Maryland can help protect sharks worldwide.
So congratulations Maryland, but remember, there‚Äôs a lot of work still left to do to protect our oceans. As for the rest of the states, what are you waiting for?
Maryland Governor Martin O‚Äô Malley is standing by his promise to promote offshore wind development by championing the introduction of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013.
The bill, introduced on January 21st, would be the second law of its kind that promotes offshore wind through the use of offshore wind renewable energy credits (ORECs). The law will require utilities in the state to provide to their ratepayers a certain amount of power generated from offshore wind energy. If passed, this bill will jumpstart a nascent industry and create Maryland-based manufacturing and maritime jobs. It will help spur the development of at least 200 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind off Maryland‚Äôs coast, which is enough to power about 200,000 homes with clean energy. And that is just the start.
If you‚Äôve been paying attention to news out of the nation‚Äôs capital, it would seem that there‚Äôs little to be encouraged about. But what you might not have heard is the genuinely good news that emerged when the dust settled on the so-called ‚Äúfiscal cliff‚ÄĚ deal just after the New Year. Thanks to tireless campaigning by Oceana, an unheralded bit of legislation, crucial to the future of the country‚Äôs clean renewable energy future, was passed by Congress.
On December 31st the Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, expired. The tax credit is essential to attracting investment in the country‚Äôs promising offshore wind industry. Had it not been renewed, it would have dealt a devastating blow to an industry that is just getting off its feet here in the United States (though it is well established overseas). While subsidies for the oil and gas industry are permanent features of the U.S. tax code, the future of the wind industry truly hung in the balance as Congress looked to forge an economic deal.
Thankfully, our elected representatives recognized the crippling consequences of inaction and included the ITC in the contentious deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
If we gave up on our burgeoning offshore wind industry, what exactly would we be giving up on? Well, 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, enough to power the entire United States four times over.
And wind energy is good for the ocean. While the Department of the Interior mulls a proposal to test for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean with seismic airguns that threaten tens of thousands of marine mammals, and as Shell continues to demonstrate the dangers of offshore drilling in ever more remote and hazardous locales, the need for developing our clean energy industry has never been clearer.
Thanks to Oceana, wind companies that had begun to scale back and even lay off workers in the face of fiscal and political uncertainty are hiring again. In the midst of a still sputtering economy, the renewal of the ITC means more manufacturing jobs and revitalized port industries.
But most importantly, it signals that the United States is serious about developing the untapped wealth of clean, renewable wind energy off its shores. Thanks to the work of our advocates and the wisdom of our representatives, a new wind blows in the country‚Äôs energy landscape.
Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana
As part of the so-called ‚Äėfiscal cliff‚Äô deal, Congress voted to extend the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a crucial financing tool for offshore wind that makes investment in the clean energy industry much more attractive.
The ITC technically expired at midnight on New Year‚Äôs Eve, and, if left expired, could have jeopardized a new industry with the potential to generate tens of thousands of jobs and enough electricity to power the country four times over. Luckily, the tax credit was extended at the eleventh hour.
Oceana ocean advocate Nancy Sopko praised Congress‚Äô decision to renew the ITC:
"We couldn‚Äôt be happier that the ITC - the most critical tax incentive for the offshore wind industry - has been extended as part of the ‚Äėfiscal cliff‚Äô deal. The inclusion of the ITC provides invaluable certainty to the financial sector that the offshore wind industry is a viable job-creating industry in the U.S. and helps to jumpstart this domestic clean energy resource. We need to capitalize on this great momentum to complete the transition to clean and renewable energy sources, like offshore wind, to reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels, create long-term domestic jobs, combat climate change and take the lead on clean energy development in the world."
Nancy Sopko, Oceana advocate and Corry Westbrook, Oceana federal policy director, thank Congressman Pascrell (D-NJ) for his leadership on offshore wind.
This huge victory would not be possible without your support. By passing the ITC, the United States has signaled that it is serious about developing the untapped wealth of clean, renewable wind energy off its shores.
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 ‚Äúicebreaking‚ÄĚ 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster, sparked by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan last March, has led the Japanese government to embrace a safer energy source: offshore wind.
Japan seeks to expand its wind energy capacity and compete with European markets in the brand new field of floating offshore wind technology. The country plans to build a pilot floating wind farm with six 2-Megawatt turbines, and then scale up to 80 floating turbines off the Fukushima coast by 2020.
While offshore wind has begun to be used in Europe, to date, it has been dependent on shallow enough water to stabilize the foundation. There is currently an international race to develop floating offshore wind farms, which are the next big step in offshore wind energy as they will allow for offshore wind development even in deeper water.
Floating offshore wind designs are being field tested in the North Sea and Portugal. (Check out this video describing how one type of floating wind turbine is designed and deployed.) Floating wind farms consist of large floating structures that support a spinning turbine, the base of which can be tethered to the ocean floor.
It uses a ballast system to transfer water between pillars to keep the platform stable even in very high seas. The floating farms are assembled on land and then can be towed out to sea to be placed in deeper water locations that have stronger and steadier winds. The ability to place offshore wind farms into deeper waters along with their lack of concrete bases and increased mobility reduces their environmental impact while increasing their production of clean energy.
Japan has responded to the Fukushima disaster in the way that the U.S. should respond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster ‚Äď by aggressively pursuing safer, more environmentally friendly energy sources that will allow us to phase out the older and more dangerous ones.
Ted Danson is a member of Oceana's board of directors, and has been active in the fight against offshore drilling for decades. This guest post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
I haven't heard news this good in a long time. The Obama administration's announcement to protect the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and both U.S. coasts from offshore drilling as part of the next five-year plan is a massive win for our oceans and every living thing that relies on them.
What's more, the administration said it would reconsider Shell's proposal to drill in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea, a sign that the president's commitment to science and preparedness were not just lip service.
The decision is a reversal of the plans President Obama announced in March -- before the largest environmental disaster in our nation's history began staining the Gulf of Mexico black.
Today is Blog Action Day, and this year‚Äôs theme couldn‚Äôt be more relevant to us and all you fantastic ocean activists: water.
Water is also an especially poignant theme given the timing. Next Wednesday is the six-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill dominated the news -- and this blog -- for several months, and nobody‚Äôs sure what the long-term effects will be on gulf ecosystems.
And yet, just a few days ago, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling several weeks earlier than planned, and several months before the release of studies about the effects of the oil spill on the gulf.
As Oceana‚Äôs pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz said of the decision, ‚ÄúThis is an incredibly disconcerting and unjustified move, that could open the door for the next great oil disaster. Oil spills are common. The question is not whether there will be another spill but when.‚ÄĚ
But not all the news the past few months has been negative. Yes, the gulf has endured the worst environmental crisis in our nation‚Äôs history, but there are signs of hope. Momentum on offshore wind power is building, for one thing.