The U.S. maritime sector stands to reap major benefits from an offshore wind initiative announced Monday by the White House that would jump-start billions of dollars of investment into ports and U.S.-made cargo ships.
The proposal, which involves oversight from several cabinet-level departments including the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), aims to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind in the United States by 2030. Meeting the target will spur more than $12 billion per year in capital investment in offshore wind projects along both U.S. coasts, according to an administration fact sheet. The plan forecasts more than 44,000 workers employed in offshore wind by 2030 and 33,000 affiliated jobs in areas supported by offshore wind activity.
Meeting the 2030 target will catalyze “massive supply chain benefits,” according to the plan. They include port upgrade investments totaling more than $500 million and the construction of four to six vessels that specialize in wind turbine installation in U.S. shipyards, each representing an investment between $250 million and $500 million.
“The industry will also spawn new supply chains that stretch into America’s heartland, as illustrated by the 10,000 tons of domestic steel that workers in Alabama and West Virginia are supplying to a Texas shipyard where Dominion Energy is building the nation’s first Jones Act-compliant wind turbine installation vessel,” the White House stated.
The announcement underscores the Biden administration’s support for renewable energy power, such as that generated by offshore wind.
“Tackling the climate crisis is vital to our nation’s future,” commented DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris administration is taking actions that show how creating jobs and addressing climate change can and must go hand in hand. Today’s announcement makes a critical investment in our nation’s ports, which in turn builds up the resilience and sustainability of America’s economy.”
The offshore wind plan coincides with a funding opportunity announced Monday by the U.S. Maritime Administration, part of DOT, for port authorities to apply for $230 million in port and intermodal infrastructure-related projects through the agency’s Port Infrastructure Development Program. Last year 18 projects won $220 million in grants.
“Port Infrastructure Development Grants support projects that strengthen and modernize port infrastructure and can support shoreside wind energy projects, such as storage areas, laydown areas and docking of wind energy vessels to load and move items to offshore wind farms,” the White House noted.
“In addition to supporting our nation’s long-term economic vitality, DOT’s review process will consider how proposed projects can most effectively address climate change and environmental justice imperatives.”
The administration also announced it would be prioritizing offshore wind projects off the coast of New York and New Jersey, an area called the New York Bight. The area is adjacent to the largest metropolitan population center in the U.S., more than 20 million people.
So far in the U.S., five turbines with a collective output of 30 megawatts of electricity are operating off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, and a trial project generating 12 megawatts was recently erected off the coast of Hampton Roads, Virginia.
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