Why Does US Lag in Offshore Wind? Count the Reasons

Instability in the financial markets is one of several major factors preventing domestic offshore wind from becoming a reality in the US.

More than 40,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity have been permitted around the globe, yet the US accounts for barely 1% of that, and the US has yet to generate its first watt of electricity from this abundant, carbon-free source of power.

Lack of a clear regulatory structure, inconsistent messages from other ocean stakeholders, congressional budget battles, and opposition to specific project siting are also holding back development, according to a brief released by the Center for American Progress (CAP).

The Natural Resources Committee of the US House of Representatives held a hearing yesterday to identify roadblocks to wind and solar energy on public lands and waters.

CAP made the following recommendations for encouraging offshore wind development:

  • Increase government investment in offshore wind to make it more financially palatable.
  • Shape transmission rules to allow for a robust offshore grid.
  • Ensure the federal "Smart from the Start" program, which is designed to expedite offshore wind, is smart through the finish.
  • Engage stakeholders early in the process of identifying wind energy areas in "Smart from the Start."

"These recommendations will allow America to catch up to other nations currently at the vanguard of technological development," CAP said. "Other countries are reaping the economic and employment rewards of creating a new industry while simultaneously reducing their carbon footprint and making strides toward a renewable energy future."

"The longer we wait to begin developing this technology and creating the infrastructure and knowledge base that go along with it, the further we will fall behind the rest of the world, and the harder it will be to bring the economic development and environmental benefits to our own shores," they added.

The brief provides an overview of offshore wind permitting and financing in the US, an update on the status of a few key projects, and recommendations on how to clear some of the hurdles to promoting offshore wind development.

Read the brief:

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