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Wind turbines, of the Block Island Wind Farm, tower above the water on October 14, 2016 off the shores of Block Island, Rhode Island. The first offshore wind project in the US created more than 300 construction jobs and will deliver the electricity demands for the entire island. (Photo: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images)

Historic Offshore Wind Farm Is a Very Good Thing

Biden is aiming for 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. A green light had already been given for offshore wind installations off Massachusetts.

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

The Biden-Harris White House announced Wednesday that The Department of the Interior is offering a lease sale for offshore wind in the New York Bight, off the coast of New York and New Jersey. The sale will allow companies to put in enough wind turbines to generate 7 gigawatts (GW) of green energy, or possibly more. That would power 2 million homes.

Offshore wind could generate all of America's electricity needs and then some if it were fully developed.

Biden is aiming for 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. A green light had already been given for offshore wind installations off Massachusetts.

It is the biggest lease auction in history, affecting 480,000 acres in the triangular area of recessed coastline called a "bight." Offshore wind could generate all of America's electricity needs and then some if it were fully developed. The Trump administration did nothing to promote this source of clean electricity. Trump said ludicrous things like that wind turbines cause cancer. It is actually listening to Trump that causes cancer.

An important point that should not be missed is that these are federal leases, but New York state has its own ambitious plans for offshore wind, as David Winzelburg of the Long Island Business News points out.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul welcomed the Biden plan, saying, "Here in New York, we are already living with the effects of climate change through extreme weather that pose a direct threat to our way of life. We must chart an ambitious path toward a cleaner energy economy now more than ever, and today's milestone further highlights New York's commitment to reaching its offshore wind goals."

He writes that Hochul has already announced state plans for an "offshore wind transmission network." The Master Plan 2.0 Deep Water covers five huge offshore wind facilities that will generate 4.3 gigawatts of energy, which would supply 3 million homes in the Empire State. The New York State plan will also support nearly 7,000 jobs and generate some $12 billion in revenue.

Even New York City is getting into the action, according to Dan Avery at Architectural Digest. The city has its own offshore wind farm plans. Moreover, there are plans for local manufacturing of the turbines, generating American jobs. Avery writes, "Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams boasted the infrastructure was already in place to create wind manufacturing hubs at Brooklyn Navy Yard, South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, and the Red Hook Container Terminal." There are plans to ensure that 40% of the jobs are directed at women, minorities and "environmental justice communities." New construction facilities and ports will likely also be developed.

All this, mind you, is on top of the gains of the federal Biden-Harris plan.

Onshore wind is also making great progress, with the largest wind facility in the Americas having just gone operational in New Mexico.

The United States is backward in the area of offshore wind, but other industrialized countries have gone into it in a big way.

Scotland now gets virtually all of its electricity from renewables, mostly wind. That country has also innovated, and is building the world's largest fixed-bottom wind farm. This one Seagreen wind farm will generate 1,1 gigawatts. Likewise, Scotland is putting in floating wind farms in areas where the sea is too deep for fixed towers. Scotland is planning for 10 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.

The good thing is that even offshore wind farms, with their construction hurdles, can be built fairly quickly, in as little as 18 months.


© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

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