Image by Oimheidi from Pixabay

We have winds, breezes and not just with hurricanes. Wind is a renewable energy source and one area that laid off oil workers could work in.

Another step toward wind projects aimed at generating energy off the coast of Louisiana and other Gulf states is being taken by the Biden administration. The U.S. Department of the Interior is set to release what’s known as a “request for interest” to private companies later this week as a way to gauge the market’s appetite and feasibility for offshore wind projects in the Gulf of Mexico. The Biden administration is pushing for 30 gigawatts of wind power to be built offshore by the private sector by 2030. “This is an important first step to see what role the Gulf may play,” said Deb Haaland, Secretary for the Department of the Interior.

The request is for wind energy farms off the Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas coasts. The request also asks for other renewable technology on the market. The Request for Interest will be out this week and then a 45 day comment period begins.

But a long, difficult road lies ahead before turbine blades will be spinning in the distance from Gulf Coast beaches. Upfront costs for offshore wind farms and transmission infrastructure are still higher than solar power. And there’s been tepid demand from regional utilities, including Entergy, which has rebuffed requests in the past to invest in offshore wind, citing poor economics. In general, wind power can cost utilities roughly five times for the same megawatt. Still, there are reasons for renewable-energy firms to be hopeful. Two years ago, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management told the New Orleans City Council that the Gulf Coast โ€” particularly, Texas, Louisiana and Florida โ€” have some of the highest wind capacity in the nation. The water is also shallow enough in many areas to build vast wind farms anchored to the ocean floor, the federal regulator said.

The Bureau of Energy management has sold $500 million in wind energy projects off the East Coast but none in the Gulf. One project off Martha’s Vinyard should be up this year. Louisiana provided input to the Block Island Wind Project in 2016. So there is knowledge here.

New Orleans BOEM regional director Mike Celata called the move a “first step” in the federal government’s ability to harness the expertise of those who have built the entire offshore oil industry. The federal government has already leased 1.7 million acres for offshore wind and has 17 active commercial leases with businesses โ€” mostly along the Atlantic seaboard from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras.

Hopefully the costs will drop and this will be another arrow in our quiver as we wean ourselves off oil and gas.

Windmills off our Coast?
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