US Announced Offshore Wind Lease Sale in the Gulf of Mexico
On Feb. 22, 2023, at the Offshore Wind Shot Summit, the US government announced the first offshore wind energy lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, a historically famous area for oil and gas production. This project has the potential to power nearly 1.3 million homes in the area.
The White House and US Department are proposing to open up an area of 102,480 acres off the coast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two more near Galveston, Texas of 102,480 and 76,786 acres, respectively. According to Deb Haaland, Interior Secretary, the announcement was part of the effort to jumpstart the offshore wind industry in the US, since President Biden aims to install wind turbines along all US coasts.
“There is no time to waste in making bold investments to address the climate crisis. Building a strong domestic offshore wind industry is key to meeting that challenge head on,” Haaland said.
By 2030, the current US administration intends to deploy 30GW of offshore wind power, in addition to another 15GW of energy produced by floating offshore wind turbines by 2035. “This could power 10 million homes, create 44,000 new jobs in the offshore wind industry by 2030 and nearly 33,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity,” a government fact sheet by the Department of Interior reads.
Elizabeth Klein, Director, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said the bureau is committed to ensuring any offshore wind activities are done in a manner that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users.
The National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), stressed that the development of this clean energy industry would complement the existing oil and gas operations in this sector. Government studies have found that the Gulf of Mexico's shallow waters and proximity to oil and gas infrastructure make it promising for expansion of a new offshore industry.
So far, the Biden administration has held three offshore wind lease auctions, off the New York and New Jersey coasts, which generated a record US$1.5 billion in bids, and one in the Pacific coast of California.
In Mexico, there have been different proposals to develop an offshore wind plant off the coast of Yucatan. According to a study performed by UNAM scientists in collaboration with the National Institute of Electricity and Clean Energy (INEEL) and Universidad Autónoma de Tabasco, the coast of Yucatan is one of the best areas in the country to develop offshore wind farms due to its unique characteristics, including the high speed of winds and the coast’s shallow waters. Moreover, the study revealed that a wind farm could supply 97% of the annual electricity consumption of the states of Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo, thereby solving the deep-rooted energy supply issues in the area.