The United States has become one of the largest and rapidly-expanding wind markets in the world, with the U.S. Energy Department investing in both land and offshore research and development projects in an effort “to advance technology innovations, create job opportunities and boost economic growth.”[i] In the future, the Energy Department predicts that the U.S. wind industry will constitute a “critical part” of its strategy to decrease carbon pollution, diversify the U.S. energy economy, and bring American-made clean energy technologies to the global market.[ii]
Offshore wind projects, in particular, present significant opportunities to the U.S. due to abundant offshore wind resources, significant siting and development opportunities, as well as electricity demand growth and scheduled power plant retirements in coastal states.[iii] Moreover, an expansive offshore wind industry would contribute significantly to important environmental and economic benefits for the U.S. such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, decreased air pollution from other emissions, reduced water consumption, greater energy diversity and security, and increased economic development and employment.[iv]
In early June 2021, the Biden administration tagged the Gulf of Mexico as an area of interest to explore the potential of offshore wind energy development, as part of the administration’s overarching goal to increase the U.S.’s growth in clean energy over the course of the next decade. Following this announcement, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (“BOEM”) published a Request for Interest (“RFI”), targeting the coastal states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama, to gather information on and gauge interest in offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico. Thereafter, BOEM held its first Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Meeting, the goal of which was to (1) “facilitate coordination among federal, state, local, and tribal governments regarding the wind energy leasing process on the Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico,” (2) “share information about existing Gulf of Mexico activities and marine conditions,” and (3) provide updates on regional offshore wind goals and developer activities.”[v]
And most recently, the Louisiana Governor’s Office hosted the first-ever Louisiana Wind Week 2021 from June 21st through June 25th.[vi] Wind Week 2021 consisted of five virtual sessions, including presentations, panel discussions, as well as Q&A sessions with the public, to explore various topics pertaining to Louisiana’s future in offshore wind energy development. The sessions included presentations on and discussion of “Offshore Wind Leasing and Administration Priorities,” “Minimizing Potential Impacts,” “Engaging Existing Users and Understanding Their Concerns,” “Connecting Offshore Wind to Users,” and “Existing and Future Supply Chain Capacity.”
One of the biggest impressions from Louisiana Wind Week 2021 is that offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico, while still in its infancy, represents an area of great economic potential for the State of Louisiana. Additionally, Louisiana’s decades-long experience with offshore oil and gas development puts the State in a prime position, in terms of both experience and infrastructure, for offshore wind energy development.
We will continue to monitor and report on developments in offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico.
[iii] National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States Report, September 2016, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of the Interior.
[iv] National Offshore Wind Strategy: Facilitating the Development of the Offshore Wind Industry in the United States Report, September 2016, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of the Interior.