The White House announced in a press briefing Monday a new plan to expand offshore wind farms across the country, particularly the East Coast. The Biden Administration calculates that this would create 32,000 jobs during construction from 2022-2030 and 6,000 annual jobs from maintenance and its impact on surrounding communities.
The new plan would generate thirty gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2030. This capacity would generate enough power for ten million homes annually, avoiding over 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, when compared to current fossil fuel-generated electricity. The Biden Administration plans to achieve this goal by speeding up permit processes and opening up "new wind energy area" between Long Island and the New Jersey coast, investing in infrastructure, and continuing research and development.
The Biden Administration appeared committed to the economic benefit of clean technology, emphasizing the new jobs created by the plan. Aside from the construction and annual jobs, the detailed briefing clarified that over 44,000 new jobs would be created from the emerging industry, along with 33,000 additional community jobs, as well as $12 billion in capital investment. Indeed, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said:
"President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of climate change, but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery, rebuild the middle class, and make sure we bounce back from the crises we face. Nowhere is the scale of that opportunity clearer than for offshore wind."
Because offshore wind requires much more maintenance and support than other forms of renewable energy, it provides a unique economic opportunity, creating more jobs at higher-paying levels than fossil fuel jobs. Yet, offshore wind is an untapped resource in the United States, with only a small thirty-megawatt project in Rhode Island, 0.1% of Biden's proposed capacity.
The White House also announced numerous investments to support offshore wind, such as $230 million grant for port infrastructure from the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration, and an $8 million grant for research and development projects from the Department of Energy and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. NOAA will also provide a $1 million research grant to better understand how to minimize the impact of offshore wind on fishing and coastal communities. The White House said Monday that they hope to "protect biodiversity and promote ocean co-use" in this plan.
NOAA will share resources with Danish offshore wind development firm Ørsted, which has leases on some coastal waters under U.S. jurisdiction. This agreement, though the first of its kind, is hopefully a precursor to similar agreements, promoting data-sharing with allies in Europe. Europe is much farther along in offshore wind development than the United States, particularly Denmark, and the Biden Administration is hopeful that this will "fill gaps in ocean science areas."
Read the White House fact sheet annotated by Ajani Stella:
“FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Jumpstarts Offshore Wind Energy Projects to Create Jobs.” The White House, March 29, 2021. The White House. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/03/29/fact-sheet-biden-administration-jumpstarts-offshore-wind-energy-projects-to-create-jobs/.