The Floating Future of Offshore Wind

The federal government recently took a major step towards clean energy when it announced its five-year leasing schedule for up to 12 potential offshore wind projects.

Offshore wind development is crucial to New York meeting its stated clean energy goals of 70 percent renewable energy statewide by 2030 and 100 percent zero emission electricity by 2040. 

We are urging New York State to increase its offshore wind target to 20 gigawatts by 2050. Now, the stated targets are 4.4 gigawatts by 2030 and 9 gigawatts by 2035, which is expected to power more than two million homes.

“Our energy needs are only going to increase and our targets and, ultimately, what we deliver are going to have to scale up to our needs,” said NYLCV President Julie Tighe, speaking at the International Partnering Forum in New Orleans.

According to the Department of Energy’s EarthShots Initiative, approximately two thirds of the United State’s offshore wind capacity is in waters too deep for traditional fixed-bottom turbines.

One solution, Tighe noted, is developing offshore wind projects using floating turbine, because, she said, “they will enable the capture of more – and stronger – wind energy in deeper waters.” These floating turbines are designed for depths greater than 200 feet.

The updated federal regulations are designed to reduce the cost of developing offshore wind projects by modernizing, streamlining and removing unnecessary regulations, and enhancing compliance. Thechanges are expected to save $1.9 billion from offshore wind projects.

The target areas for the 12 future offshore leases are in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and waters offshore from U.S. territories. The breakdown is for four leases in 2024, one each in 2025 and 2026, two in 2027 and four in 2028.

So far, the Biden Administration has approved the nation’s first eight commercial scale offshore wind projects. The DOE has approved more than 10 gigawatts for offshore wind projects, enough to power almost 4 million homes, Haaland said. These projects include the South Fork Wind project, located off the coast of Montauk, Long Island. It is now operational and the 12 turbines are expected to deliver enough renewable energy to power 70,000 homes.

This is certainly good news, Tighe said, but she explained that while New York has shallow shore lines, many of the places in the United States do not.

“New York’s initial success and focus in offshore wind has been largely due to its shallow coastal waters, allowing fixed-bottom turbines to be anchored to the sea floor,” she said, adding, “However, these shallow areas are limited and in places like California, they’re almost nonexistent.”

The renewable energy potential from offshore wind with floating turbines is staggering, up to 2.8 terawatts, which equals 2,800 gigawatts of power, enough to power tens of millions of homes.   

Tighe applauded the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for setting goals of 15 megawatts of floating offshore wind capacity nationwide by 2023 and a $50 million investment in research and development in this area. 

“Deepwater offshore wind projects will require robust supply chains and create numerous jobs, driving significant economic growth,” she said. 

We urge federal and New York State officials to develop plans to scale up the development of offshore wind as soon as possible. 


05.06.24 // AUTHOR: Devin Callahan //