Editorial

More offshore wind leasing in the US would unlock billions

Right now, the process of getting an offshore wind lease in the US is challenging

Offshore wind in the United States is growing by leaps and bounds.

Our base scenario for the US offshore wind market sees 25 gigawatts of capacity getting built by 2029, up from 42 megawatts in place today.

But the market could move even faster with smoother processes in place for leasing and permitting.

According to our new research on the subject, we find that accelerated auctions of lease areas could facilitate up to $166 billion in offshore wind investment by 2035.

We looked at four areas with serious potential: New York Bight, the Carolina Coast, the California Coast, and the Gulf of Maine.

Quicker auctions would help these regions add 80,000 jobs annually all together through 2035, and 16,000 jobs annually after that. It could also supercharge investment into offshore wind in the US, which currently lags behind Europe and Asia.

A recent Wood Mackenzie webinar explores our offshore wind leasing study in more depth – watch it on demand. The section on BOEM begins at 48:00.

Accelerating leasing would also provide opportunities for the offshore wind companies that are currently interested in the US market but don't have a lease area at present.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) oversees offshore wind leasing. The agency is studying New York Bight, the Carolina Coast, the California Coast, and the Gulf of Maine for potential lease opportunities, but it is not expected to hold any lease sales in 2020 and its plans for 2021 are not clear. If BOEM moved forward with leasing these areas it would reap $1.2 billion in Treasury revenue, we estimate.

Leasing these areas would also make it possible for US offshore wind capacity to grow by 28 gigawatts, according to our research.

The recent report on accelerating offshore leasing was commissioned by four industry groups: the American Wind Energy Association, the National Ocean Industries Association, the New York Offshore Wind Alliance and the University of Delaware’s Special Initiative on Offshore Wind.

View an on-demand webinar with offshore wind analyst Max Cohen for more on our offshore wind leasing study. The section on BOEM begins at 48:00.