“This is a very big, big thing. This is a signal like never before in the United States of where we can go with offshore wind, ”said Dan Reicher, who served as assistant secretary in the Clinton administration’s Department of Energy and now advises Magellan Wind, which is developing floating projects Offshore turbines.
“I’ve been in the wind industry for a long time,” said Reicher. “This is a repetition of what we did a few decades ago when we stepped up onshore wind power as it went from a small niche power source to an affordable mainstream power source.”
However, there is no guarantee that companies will rent space in federal waters and build wind farms. Once the offshore areas are identified, they will undergo lengthy reviews at the federal, state and local levels. If the potential sites could harm endangered species, conflict with military activities, underwater dig sites, or local industries like tourism, the federal government may find them unsuitable for lease.
As with other offshore wind farms, commercial fishing groups and coastal landowners are likely to try to stop the projects. In the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas exploration is an important economic factor, fossil fuel companies could combat wind power expansion as a threat not just to their local activities, but to their entire business model.
“Making these announcements in a very political way, without looking at what it means, in which area, when we still don’t know what impact these projects will have, is really problematic,” said Anne Hawkins, executive director of Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a coalition of fisheries organizations. “In an ideal world, when you welcome a new industry, do it in phases, not all at once.”
Interior Ministry officials said they intend to take such considerations into account.
“We are working to facilitate a pipeline of projects that will instill confidence in the offshore wind industry,” said Amanda Lefton, director of the Home Office’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “At the same time, we want to reduce potential conflicts as much as possible and at the same time achieve the administration’s goal of using 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.”