Biden’s Big Expansion in Offshore Wind. Is it Enough?

March 30, 2021


As the White House slows down fossil fuel development on public lands and offshore, it’s ramping up renewable energy with a push to jumpstart the offshore wind energy business. Monday’s announcement is part of President Biden’s effort to fulfill the ambitious climate plan he campaigned on, including making the nation’s electricity sector carbon neutral by 2035.

As with much of Biden’s climate message, a key focus is on creating jobs. 

“President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of climate change, but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery,” said White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy in a statement before the announcement. 

The Interior Department plans to start selling leases later this year for a new “wind energy area” in the New York Bight, the relatively shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast.

study last summer by the research firm Wood Mackenzie showed that constructing offshore wind turbines there would support about 32,000 jobs from 2022 to 2030. It also found it would support about 6,000 permanent jobs.

The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), which represents offshore wind as well as oil companies, praised the announcement saying benefits will be felt across the country. “In areas like the Gulf Coast, you will find steel fabricators, heavy lift vessel operators, subsea construction companies, helicopter service providers and more who built their experience in the oil and gas industry but will be vital in building offshore wind,” said NOIA President Erik Milito in a statement. 

Louisiana’s governor has proposed developing wind energy in the Gulf.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said the country needs to boost the offshore wind industry because “for generations, we’ve put off the transition to clean energy, and now we’re facing a climate crisis.” Scientists say most of the world’s fossil fuels will need to stay in the ground to avoid the worst effects of climate change. 

In the future, the administration wants to see a thriving offshore wind industry up and down the East Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico and along the West Coast. It’s setting a target of employing tens of thousands more workers to deploy 30 gigawatts of turbines by 2030. That’s enough to meet the demand of more than 10 million American homes for a year, according to the White House.

Also today, the Interior Department announced plans to complete reviews for at least 16 more areas where offshore wind could be developed by 2025. That will require new investments in ports, and new factories to build wind turbines and parts. The administration’s eventual goal is for the U.S. to generate 110 gigawatts of electricity offshore by 2050.

Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey all have their own plans for a domestic offshore wind industry. New Jersey announced in January plans for a “wind port” to supply projects along the East Coast.

Energy experts on Twitter applauded, but some noted a more ambitious goal is needed.


4 Responses to “Biden’s Big Expansion in Offshore Wind. Is it Enough?”

  1. There are already too many of these inefficient eyesores, as anyone who respects nature’s physical legacy should see. With over 65,500 wind turbines in America so far, mostly onshore, the blight is obvious. Putting them out to sea rarely hides them or creates low impact. The world now has over360,000 but your ilk want over 10 times that many!

    Anyone reading this who isn’t a climate change denier, yet also hasn’t sold out to Big Wind, will appreciate “Bright Green Lies,” available as a book, to be released as a film on Earth Day. It’s the best take-down of wind power I’ve seen in one place. Below is an excerpt from “The Wind Lie” chapter:

    “….Let’s do the math. Mark Jacobson calls for 3.8 million 5 MW turbines by 2030. That’s 19 million MW. First, let’s subtract the 2017 installed capacity of 540,000 MW, taking us down to a little under 18.5 MW: That reduces the number of new 5 MW wind turbines needed in his plan to about 3.7 million new turbines.
    To build that many new wind turbines would require more than 1.4 billion tons of steel for towers, another billion tons of steel and 1.9 million tons of copper for the nacelles, 133 million tons of composite fiber materials for rotor blades, and around 2.6 billion tons of concrete and steel for foundations (assuming a conservative average of 2,000 tons of material per turbine). In comparison, construction of Hoover Dam used 211,500 tons of concrete and 22,500 tons of steel. The scale of this project, then, is the equivalent of building perhaps 60,000 Hoover Dams in 12 years, more than 13 Hoover Dams per day.

    Just what the world needs, right?

    The everyday operation of wind turbines requires fossil fuels for lubrication. ExxonMobil is one of the major providers; they have a line of fossil-fuel based lubricants solely for use in wind turbines. 14 The average 5 MW turbine contains several hundred gallons of oil and hydraulic fluid; the transformer at the base of each turbine may contain another 500 gallons. Let’s take a rough average, 700 gallons, and multiply it by the 3.8 million turbines Mark Jacobson and other bright greens want to build, and you get 2.6 billion gallons. These lubricants don’t last forever: like oil in a car, they get gunked up and have to be replaced—on average every nine to 16 months. They also sometimes spill or leak. A worldwide fleet of 3.8 million wind turbines—or any number, for that matter—requires a steady supply of lubricants to keep them humming. This fleet would leak and spill an oily flood of these chemicals….”

    It also has extensive sections debunking excuses for bird & bat fatalities, explaining problems with mining, fossil fuels for construction & lubrication, and the impacts of new roads and clear-cuts. I’m well aware that readers of this blog will deny it or don’t care, and that’s the point. Highly recommended for the honest environmentalists left on this planet.

    • John Oneill Says:

      Professor Per Peterson of UC Berkeley has a paper detailing the concrete and steel needed to build various models of nuclear reactor, which he shows need roughly one tenth that needed for an equivalent production from wind. But then Mark Jacobson and other ‘dull greens’ want to build two or three times that much to cover intermittency, as well as a whole other overbuild of solar, in the hope that either of them will work most of the time, plus another massive extension of the power grid, to shuffle power around from where there’s too much of it to where there’s none. The alternative, of just putting compact nuclear plants in the coalyard of shuttered coal plants, using the same power distribution lines and cooling sources, would need about two or three orders of magnitude less ‘stuff’.( Six orders less, for the fuel.)

      Click to access 05-001-A_Material_input.pdf

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        If China, which has access to the technology without the jurisdictional restrictions, can’t do it, the US never could at the scales that would matter (and be cost-effective).

        Serious question: What is the fixed annual cost of operation of a nuclear power plant relative to the income from the amount of electricity it provides to the grid over the same year? (Bear in mind that PV solar is cost-effective to build even if it only supplies really cheap electricity at sunny times.)

        If we carbon-taxed concrete and steel, what kind of advantage would nuclear power plants have over the gigantic wind turbines?

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      Yes, lubricants are important which is just one of many reasons why oil is far too valuable and damaging to just waste by burning.
      You miss the point with a non-argument – the issue is stopping emissions, not stopping using fossil fuels.

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