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White House announces massive expansion plans for offshore wind farms


The Biden administration has unveiled plans to develop large offshore wind farms transforming the grid along much of the US coastline in the coming years, a major effort to invest in renewable energy and combat the growing impacts of the climate change.

Home Secretary Deb Haaland said on Wednesday the government would start work to identify seven main areas where it could lease federal waters for offshore wind development. The auctions could take place by 2025, a major step towards President Joe Biden’s pledges to build 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, an amount that would power up to 10 million homes.

“The Home Office sets an ambitious roadmap as we push forward the administration’s plans to tackle climate change, create well-paying jobs and accelerate the country’s transition to a cleaner energy future,” Haaland said. “We have big goals for achieving clean energy savings, and Interior is sticking to the timing. “

The proposed areas include most of the east coast from Maine to the Carolinas, the Gulf of Mexico, and the coastline along Oregon and California. The plan is an aggressive step that would help White House goals to reduce the country’s fossil fuel emissions by the end of the decade and meet goals that scientists have long emphasized are necessary to avoid the worst effects of the country. climate change.

Biden has pledged to cut the country’s emissions of fossil fuels – potent greenhouse gases – by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030. The United States is a laggard in offshore wind, which has been heavily deployed across much of Europe.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a branch of the DOI, said the new projects could create nearly 80,000 jobs. The Associated Press notes that Haaland is also working to increase renewable energy production on earth, including investing more in wind and solar power by 2025.

While the plans could revolutionize America’s electricity grid, they still face difficult battles. The New York Times reports that even if the sites pass lengthy regulatory reviews, there is no guarantee that companies will rent the space to build the turbines. The newspaper adds that offshore wind projects have also been the subject of lawsuits by commercial fishing groups and coastal landowners, and that oil and gas companies could argue that renewable projects could damage their own business models.

Interior Ministry officials said they plan to work closely with industry stakeholders to “build confidence” in offshore wind plans.

The Block Island Wind Farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, is pictured on June 13, 2017.

Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Energy Department also said on Wednesday it would spend $ 13.5 million to study the risks of offshore wind development for wildlife, including birds, bats and marine mammals.

“Harnessing the incredible potential that exists in offshore wind energy is essential to achieving a net zero carbon future,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “In order for Americans living in coastal areas to see the benefits of offshore wind, we must ensure that it is done carefully for the surrounding ecosystem by coexisting with fishing and marine life – and that is exactly what. that this investment will do. “

The Biden administration didn’t approve the country’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm until May – the Vineyard Wind Project, located about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The project is expected to generate around 800 megawatts of electricity that could power up to 400,000 homes.

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