Action: Join Our Alliance. Support Offshore Wind.
After years of debate and public engagement, the American offshore wind sector looks poised to finally start ramping up. While Europe and Asia are ahead of the U.S. on offshore wind deployment, many companies are optimistic about the American market, especially regions off the East Coast that boast strong and steady winds and proximity to major cities to consume the power produced. With costs continuing to fall, the demand for more zero-carbon electricity growing rapidly, and support from state officials and the new Biden administration, the U.S. seems poised for its offshore wind moment.
Offshore wind projects are creating domestic manufacturing opportunities for the United States. New stateside factories and production investments supporting the global build-out of offshore wind farms will generate investment and create American jobs.
The offshore wind industry could eventually support thousands of Hampton Roads jobs and pump $740 million into the Virginia economy, according to a new economic impact study. The study estimates that 5,200 jobs, the majority of which would be based in Hampton Roads, could be supported for each gigawatt of electricity the region installs and services annually, according to study author and Richmond consulting firm Mangum Economics.
This investment makes sense. It turns Virginia in the right direction. There’s more. Far more, potentially. Hampton Roads could easily become the staging location — functionally, a supply hub — for future wind projects up and down the U.S. East Coast.
We have had four years fishing the Block Island Wind Farm now. Commercial gill nets are set up in the wind farm area, private boats, charter and large party boats as well as commercial trawlers and rod & reel fishermen fish there. They fish there because the fishing is good.
So it is about time we start to advocate for the responsible development of offshore wind farms as they have proven to be good for habitat, fish and fishers in Rhode Island and Europe. We need to insist on research and monitoring plans developed with angler input for every wind farm so we rely on science and fact based studies to measure the positive and negative impacts to habitat and fish before, during and after construction.
In the past decade, the use of wind power in the U.S. has more than tripled, making it the largest source of domestically generated renewable energy.
While onshore wind capacity continues to grow rapidly, generating around 7% of the country’s electricity, the U.S. also has incredible untapped potential for offshore wind.
In New England, offshore wind developers and the fishing industry continue to grapple with questions over potential impacts on the region’s valuable fisheries. A recent European study not only offers good news on that front, it also provides a template for how the two industries can work together. Research conducted over a six-year period concluded that the 35 turbines that form the Westermost Rough offshore wind facility, about 5 miles off England’s Holderness coast, have had no discernible impact on the area’s highly productive lobster fishing grounds.