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Biden administration powers ahead on offshore wind

Image: Unsplash wind turbine shaun-dakin-nY_RHD44e_o-unsplash 2 2_0.jpg
The line-up of wind energy projects in waters off the US East Coast grew this week as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced its intention to begin an environmental review of the MarWin project.

BOEM is a part of the US Department of Interior (DOI) and announced its interest in the Maryland Offshore Wind Project (MarWin) which is located in the Atlantic, roughly 10 – 25 nautical miles east of Ocean City, Maryland.

The Biden administration aims to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind power by the end of this decade, and is stepping up the pace as projects move through the wheels of government bureaucracy. US Wind, the project’s developer—majority owned by the Italian entity Renexia—acquired a large lease area in a 2014 lease sale; three years later, in 2017, the state of Maryland approved the project.

The Biden administration supports offshore wind, unlike the preceding administration, which put the brakes on development from early 2017 through early 2021. BOEM will open a 30-day public comment period as part of the process to help determine the scope of the environmental review.

According to US Wind, “The lease area, about 80,000 acres in size, has the capacity to generate 1,500 MW of offshore wind energy.” It said that the MarWin project, one of two in the lease area, “is an offshore wind facility that will deliver approximately 270 MW of clean, renewable electricity to Maryland by constructing 22 turbines or less about 17 miles from shore.”

This implies that 22 x 12 mW turbines would be utilized; but it is possible that fewer turbines, each with higher output, could be installed as the project moves ahead in the coming years.

Vendors are now marketing turbines with outputs of as much as 15mW. There is a precedent for going with larger turbines. Concerns about interference with offshore fishing activities caused developers of Vineyard Wind, a project south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to pivot from their initial plan for an array of 10 mW turbine to their present plan comprising 13 mW turbines.

BOEM is now opening up a venue, with a 30 day window, for comments on its intention to publish a draft Environmental Impact Statement for US Wind’s construction plan, which will be available online after the end of the comment period (July 8) at http://www.regulations.gov/- readers should search for Docket No. BOEM-2022-0025

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