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Carolina Long Bay lease sale demonstrates momentum of US offshore wind sector

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A lease sale in the Carolina Long Bay wind energy area will create tens of thousands of high-skilled US jobs, strengthen coastal economies, and deliver vast amounts of reliable, clean energy to America’s largest population centres.
Carolina Long Bay lease sale demonstrates momentum of US offshore wind sector
Courtesy of NREL.

The American Clean Power Association (ACP) has applauded the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for holding the lease sale, conducted by BOEM, which also generated $300 million in revenue that will go to the US Treasury. The two lease areas that were bid upon include 110,091 acres offshore North Carolina and South Carolina in the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area. Once fully developed, these leases could generate at least 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes with carbon-free, domestically produced electricity.

The lease sale is a critical step to meeting the US goal of deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030, which could create up to 83,000 jobs and $25 billion in annual economic output. The US offshore wind industry is investing billions of dollars in a domestic supply chain, including investments in fabrication facilities, port upgrades, vessels, and workforce training.

“This lease sale shows the strong demand for clean energy, and it should also be a sign to Congress to repeal the 10-year moratorium on offshore wind leasing off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida” said Heather Zichal, ACP’s CEO. “Creating a stable policy platform for offshore wind development and facilitating the first wave of significant projects will provide certainty for the industry, strengthen the workforce, and bolster domestic supply chains up and down the coasts and across the country.”

Development of these offshore wind leases will bring jobs and investment to the region. The existing Atlantic offshore wind projects under development draw on a supply and vendor chain stretching into Western North Carolina, the Gulf Coast and Midwest.

BOEM’s lease sale was the result of extensive environmental reviews and significant engagement with a diverse group of stakeholders, dating from 2012, and included states, maritime industries, commercial fisheries, non-governmental organizations, and multiple opportunities for public comment.

The commercial lease gives the awardee the exclusive right to propose a project in the area and obtain federal review of its proposal. BOEM aims to permit 25 GW of offshore wind by 2025 to ensure the country’s goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

BOEM has previously held 9 competitive lease sales for commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic Coast and has laid out a plan to ensure the US can grow the offshore wind sector. Its offshore wind leasing roadmap anticipates conducting five additional lease sales in areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for the development of these projects offshore including, Northern and Central California, the Central Atlantic, Oregon, and the Gulf of Maine.

The Business Network for Offshore Wind has also applauded the sale.

"America's offshore wind industry and its supply chain took another significant step forward with the successful Wilmington East lease auction" said Liz Burdock, CEO and founder of the Business Network for Offshore Wind. "For the first time, the federal government used an auction system designed to spark investment directly into US manufacturers, small businesses, shipbuilders and new workforce training, accelerating development of the already-emerging domestic supply chain. With global demand for offshore wind soaring, the US must seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity and develop a robust domestic supply chain to secure our energy future."

For additional information:

American Clean Power Association (ACP)

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

Business Network for Offshore Wind

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