Land-based wind power has fueled rapid growth in renewables across the United States. Now, the offshore version is poised for a growth curve of its own.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), offshore wind power will grow exponentially in the next decades, and jobs and economic investment will grow along with it.
This month, the AWEA released its U.S Offshore Wind Power Economic Impact Assessment. The analysis estimates jobs, economic output and economic value add resulting from the development and operation of offshore wind projects on the East Coast through 2030.
The AWEA notes that total U.S. offshore wind potential is huge at more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) or nearly double the nation’s current electricity use. Recognizing all of this capacity won’t get built all at once, and some may never get built at all, the analysis relies on more likely market projections of between 20 to 30 GW of operational offshore wind capacity by the year 2030.
It examines the economic impact of two scenarios based on the outside parameters of those projections. In the first scenario, 20 GW of offshore wind will lead to $28 billion invested in the U.S. economy by 2030, approximately 45,000 jobs and $12.5 billion annually in economic output. In the second scenario, 30 GW of offshore wind will result in $57 billion invested in the U.S. economy by 2030, 83,000 jobs and $25 billion annually in economic output.
The AWEA analysis draws some of its insight from the history of the land-based wind power industry, which grew from 2,500 MW in 2000 to over 105,500 MW at the end of 2019.
The analysis notes that growth in the offshore wind power industry is being driven by East Coast states, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.
Currently, the United States has one operational offshore wind project, the Block Island Wind Farm, a 30-MW project with five turbines located three miles off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. It came online in December 2016.