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Today, the Biden-Harris Administration unveiled a groundbreaking plan to propel the development of offshore wind energy transmission infrastructure and bolster the resilience and dependability of the national grid. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) jointly released An Action Plan for Offshore Wind Transmission Development in the U.S. Atlantic Region during the ongoing Climate Week 2023, marking a significant milestone in the administration’s commitment to combat climate change and stimulate economic growth.
The comprehensive Action Plan, co-authored by the DOE’s Grid Deployment and Wind Energy Technologies Offices and the DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), lays out a series of decisive steps aimed at expediting the connection of the first wave of Atlantic offshore wind projects to the electrical grid. Additionally, it outlines a long-term strategy to enhance transmission capabilities over the next several decades. By coordinating efforts, this initiative aims to accelerate project timelines, reduce costs, and enhance grid stability and resilience. The DOE also introduced the Tribal Nation Technical Assistance Program for Offshore Wind Transmission, designed to provide educational and training resources for tribal engagement in offshore wind planning.
These initiatives are integral components of the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader ambition to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind in the United States by 2030, with an ultimate goal of unlocking a pathway to 110 GW or more by 2050.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm expressed the administration’s commitment, stating, “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to using all the tools in the toolbox to advance offshore wind as a critical renewable energy source to transition the nation to a clean energy future. The efforts announced today will boost our nation’s ability to deploy wind energy in an equitable way to lower energy costs, create good-paying jobs, and achieve President Biden’s goal of a 100% clean electric grid by 2035.”
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland echoed these sentiments, saying, “President Biden has set an ambitious goal of achieving 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 – and I am more confident than ever that we will meet it. Together with industry, labor, and other partners from coast to coast, we are building an entirely new industry to bolster our supply chains and strengthen our offshore wind development. The Interior Department is committed to the Biden-Harris Administration’s all-of-government approach to delivering clean, reliable renewable energy to help respond to the climate crisis, lower energy costs, and create good-paying union jobs across the manufacturing, shipbuilding, and construction sectors.”
Under President Biden’s economic agenda, often referred to as “Bidenomics,” substantial investments are driving the growth of America’s clean energy sector, resulting in American-made products, domestic manufacturing, and substantial private sector investments, including in the offshore wind industry.
Since the start of the administration, numerous companies have announced 19 offshore wind shipbuilding projects and investments exceeding $3.5 billion across 12 manufacturing facilities and 13 ports. These investments are poised to strengthen the American offshore wind supply chain and generate thousands of new jobs. In addition, BOEM and federal partners are actively collaborating on ocean co-use and efficient permitting to develop a robust offshore wind industry that minimizes impacts on the environment and protected species.
To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has granted approval for four commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects and remains on track to review at least 16 more offshore wind project plans by 2025, amounting to over 27 gigawatts of clean energy.
An Action Plan for Offshore Wind Transmission Development in the U.S. Atlantic Region
Partially funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, the Action Plan outlines strategies to efficiently harness wind resources off the Atlantic Coast of the United States and deliver clean, reliable power to communities. Immediate actions focus on connecting the initial generation of Atlantic offshore wind projects to the electrical grid, while longer-term efforts aim to expand transmission over the coming decades. Increased intra-regional coordination, shared transmission lines, and a network of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) interlinks are envisioned to facilitate the transfer of offshore wind energy.
Key recommendations within the Plan for various stakeholders include:
- Before 2025: Establish collaborative bodies across the Atlantic Coast region, update reliability standards, and identify offshore transmission interconnections with the onshore grid. Address costs through voluntary cost assignments and tax credits.
- From 2025 to 2030: Simultaneously convene and coordinate with states to plan for an offshore transmission network, work with industry to standardize HVDC technology requirements, and collaborate with federal agencies, tribal nations, state agencies, and stakeholders to identify and prioritize transmission paths on the outer continental shelf.
- From 2030 to 2040: Establish a national HVDC testing and certification center to ensure compatibility when interconnecting multiple HVDC substations to create an offshore grid network.
The DOE and several Atlantic states have initiated the formation of an Offshore Wind Transmission State Collaborative, marking the first step in implementing these recommendations. The Action Plan’s development was informed by the Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Study, set to be released by the DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, and a series of workshops involving subject matter experts, decision-makers, tribal nations, state governments, and regional transmission operators held between April 2022 and March 2023.
Tribal Nation Technical Assistance Program for Offshore Wind Transmission
The Tribal Nation Technical Assistance Program for Offshore Wind Transmission has been established to engage Federally Recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes and Villages in offshore wind transmission planning and development activities. This program, created in direct response to tribal input, offers capacity building through educational resources, training, and expert collaboration with researchers at DOE’s national labs. Additionally, it provides funding to mitigate the financial burden of tribal participation in key offshore wind transmission forums, with partial funding provided by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.