Welcome to the first issue of OWSJ. Our coverage of wind energy shipping in OSJ is now such that we have decided to break this out into a separate publication. The frequency will depend on the feedback we receive based on this issue so please feel free to contact me or the sales team with your thoughts.
The scale of Round 3 – the latest tranche of offshore wind development projects in the UK – and the rapid rate of development of similar projects elsewhere in Europe have tended to overshadow opportunities in other parts of the world. But opportunities there are aplenty, and large-scale ones too. As Offshore Wind in the Atlantic, a report published at the end of 2010, makes plain, the Atlantic states are uniquely positioned to forge a clean, independent energy future. Many Atlantic states have already become leaders in energy efficiency and renewable energy technology, but for the time being at least the vast wind resources of the Atlantic Ocean have yet to be tapped.
In contrast, European countries have many hundreds of turbines installed at more than 40 offshore windfarms. Together they are producing more than 2.3GW, enough electricity to power 450,000-600,000 homes. China recently completed its first major offshore windfarm of 102MW but not a single offshore wind turbine is spinning off the Atlantic coast of the US. At least not yet.
For the time being, the offshore wind goals of the European Union (EU) and China dwarf those of the US. The EU and the European Wind Energy Association have set a target of 40GW of offshore wind by 2020 and 150GW by 2030. China has established a target of 30GW of offshore wind by 2020 whereas the US Department of Energy recently proposed the development of 10GW of offshore wind by 2020 and 54GW by 2030.
However, as the report noted, with more than 212GW of offshore wind potential, the Atlantic Ocean can become a major source of clean energy and help create jobs and economic growth across the region.
So far, said the report, approximately 6GW of Atlantic offshore wind projects have been proposed. Approximately 3GW of Atlantic offshore wind projects are advancing through the permitting process, and of the 6GW total, approximately half of these offshore wind projects have taken concrete steps forward.
Offshore Wind in the Atlantic calls on government and stakeholders to create the political climate and economic conditions necessary to ‘jump start’ the offshore wind industry in the Atlantic Ocean. “A concerted, diverse and well-organised effort is needed,” said the authors of the report, “which must include initiatives to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy and jump start the offshore wind industry and individual projects in the Atlantic by improving the offshore wind permitting process; supporting policies and investments that spur offshore wind development; identifying and reviewing high-priority zones off the Atlantic coast; and increasing research on offshore wind technology.”
At the same time, said the report, efforts to promote jobs from the industry need to be boosted, and appropriately sited offshore windfarms need to be promoted. Regional planning and economic development – including ports, vessels, transmission and other shared opportunities – need to be co-ordinated, and policymakers need to be educated about the benefits of offshore wind.
Towards the end of last year, the Interior Department in the US announced that it hopes to offer new offshore wind leases in the Atlantic by the end of 2011. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his department would identify wind energy areas ripe for offshore development, conduct environmental reviews and improve co-ordination with local, state and federal agencies in order to accelerate the approval of new leases. Secretary Salazar also said that a regulatory change at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement would reduce the length of time it takes to complete the leasing process in some cases. “To fully harness the economic and energy benefits of our nation’s vast Atlantic wind potential, we need to implement a smart permitting process that is efficient, thorough and unburdened by needless red tape,” Mr Salazar said.
All of this is good news but much, much more needs to be done and, as the report concluded: “In order to realise the full potential of offshore wind, organisations (including labour representatives, conservation and community groups, commercial and recreational fisherman, consumer organisations and businesses) must create a clear regional vision for Atlantic offshore wind and create the political power needed to advance policies and projects.” OSJ