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Study Shows Huge Economic Potential of Offshore Wind

Total investment in the U.S. offshore wind industry is predicted to be $166 billion by 2035. (Zacharias/Adobe Stock)
Total investment in the U.S. offshore wind industry is predicted to be $166 billion by 2035. (Zacharias/Adobe Stock)
August 5, 2020

NEW YORK -- Accelerating the development of offshore wind power would bring a significant economic boost to a national economy battered by the COVID pandemic, according to a new study.

Commissioned by four energy-industry groups, the study assessed the impact of potential Bureau of Ocean Energy Management lease auctions for offshore wind power through 2022. It includes two million acres off the New York and New Jersey coasts, and other areas off the Carolinas and California, and in the Gulf of Maine.

Joe Martens, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance, said it could be a short-term solution to jump-start a recovery from the economic slowdown.

"The numbers are really staggering," he said. "It could mean up to $166 billion in new investment in the U.S. by the offshore wind industry."

He said moving ahead with those leases would generate almost $2 billion in revenue for the federal government by 2022 and 80,000 jobs annually from 2025 to 2035.

The state of New York has committed to developing nine gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2035. Martens noted that accelerating development to new lease areas would be a giant step forward for clean energy.

"If the anticipated amount of leases occur," he said, "it would mean providing clean, renewable power to up to 20 million U.S. households."

Martens added that the United States lags far behind other countries in harnessing offshore wind technology.

Several states, including New York, have set ambitious wind-energy goals that promise significant economic benefits. Martens said he believes it's time for the federal government to act with the same sense of urgency.

"They've conducted stakeholder public meetings; they've done an awful lot of analysis," he said. "So, what they need to do is just move forward with the actual designation of new wind-energy areas, and then they start a leasing process."

The sponsors of the analysis have said it proves that picking up the pace of offshore wind development can help the country rebound from the greatest economic downturn in its history.

The report is online at awea.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY