The US Department of the Interior has announced its intent to assess potential opportunities to advance clean energy development on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
The plan is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to develop 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said, “The Interior Department is committed to developing a robust and sustainable clean-energy economy.
“We know that offshore wind development has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs across the nation. This is an important first step to see what role the Gulf may play in this exciting frontier.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will publish a Request for Interest (RFI) in the Federal Register on 11 June 2021 to assess interest in potential offshore wind development in the OCS.
The RFI will be focused on the Western and Central Planning Areas of the Gulf of Mexico offshore the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
Although the primary focus of the RFI is on wind energy development, BOEM is also seeking information on other renewable energy technologies.
BOEM director Amanda Lefton said, “The Biden-Harris administration has energised the offshore wind industry by announcing the first ever national offshore wind energy goal, creating a roadmap for the future of this innovative industry. I’m excited to see the Gulf be a potential part of this historic effort.”
BOEM Gulf of Mexico regional director Mike Celata said, “The Gulf of Mexico has decades of offshore energy development expertise. This announcement represents the first step in harnessing that expertise and applying it to the renewable energy sector.
“Working directly with our partners in the Gulf, we will make sure that offshore renewable energy development proceeds in an orderly, safe and environmentally responsible manner.”
To date, BOEM has leased approximately 1.7M acres in the OCS for offshore wind development and has 17 commercial leases on the Atlantic, from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras.
Once published, the RFI will open a 45-day public comment period to solicit indications of competitive interest and additional information on potential environmental consequences and other uses of the proposed area. BOEM will consider data received in response to this RFI to determine next steps in the renewable energy leasing process in the Gulf of Mexico.
As part of this process, BOEM will convene the Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force to help co-ordinate planning, solicit feedback, and exchange scientific and process information.
BOEM will hold its first task force meeting on 15 June. The task force comprises members representing federal, Tribal, state and local governments from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.
Studies on the renewable energy potential of the OCS in the US sector of the Gulf of Mexico have found significant potential to develop offshore wind.
The studies were undertaken by BOEM and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Offshore Renewable Energy Technologies in the Gulf of Mexico analysed different offshore renewable energy technology to determine which are best suited for development in the Gulf of Mexico. The study looked at wind, wave, tidal, current, solar, deepwater source cooling and hydrogen and found that offshore wind showed the greatest resource potential and is the most mature technology of those analysed for the region.
Of all the technologies, offshore wind had the largest quantity of technical resource potential with 508 GW covering all Gulf of Mexico states, although Texas and Louisiana show the highest overall technical offshore wind resource potential.
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