Offshore wind

US Offshore Wind Energy Auction Comes to the Carolinas

The US BOEM will hold its second offshore wind energy auction in May and promises more will follow.

The planned Carolina offshore wind auction follows the successful New York Bight lease sale that attracted more than $4.3 billion in high bids.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold a wind energy auction for two lease areas offshore the North and South Carolina on 11 May. The areas cover just over 110,000 acres in the Carolina Long Bay area that, if developed, could result in at least 1.3 GW of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes. The announcement follows the completion of an environmental review by BOEM.

The auction will allow offshore wind developers to bid on one or both lease areas within the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area. The two lease areas include similar acreage, distance to shore, and wind resource potential. Among the lease stipulations, BOEM is offering a 20% credit to bidders if they commit to invest in programs that will advance US offshore wind energy workforce training or supply chain development.

The leases will also require lessees to identify Tribal Nations, underserved communities, agencies, ocean users, and other interested stakeholders and report on their communication and engagement activities with these parties. These stipulations are intended to promote offshore wind energy development in a way that coexists with other ocean uses and protects the ocean environment, and were included in the Interior Department’s recent lease sale in the New York Bight. The New York Bight auction concluded after 64 rounds of bidding, becoming the nation’s highest-grossing competitive offshore energy lease sale in history with the winning bids totaling $4.37 billion.

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“BOEM is focused on ensuring that any development offshore North Carolina is done responsibly, in a way that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users in the region,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “The milestones announced today mark significant progress in achieving this Administration’s goal for deploying 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030.”

This past fall the President Biden administration identified up to seven potential offshore wind lease sales by 2025, including the upcoming Carolina Long Bay lease sale and last month’s New York Bight lease sale. Lease sales offshore California and Oregon, as well as in the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico are expected to follow.

The US currently has one operating offshore wind energy project: Deepwater Wind’s Block Island wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. The project, a five-turbine farm with 30 MW of electricity generation capacity, began commercial operations in December 2016. Deepwater Wind is owned by investment management firm D.E. Shaw.

Last November, Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, broke ground on the $3-billion Vineyard Wind 1, the nation’s first commercial scale offshore wind farm. The 800-MW project, located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, will generate electricity for more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts. Vineyard Wind 1 is expected to start delivering power in 2023.