Galveston could get huge offshore wind project, feds say

Federal officials said Wednesday they are considering leasing a huge amount of offshore land for wind projects about 24 nautical miles off Galveston.

If developed, the wind energy area would cover 546,645 acres — an area larger than the city of Houston — which Bureau of Ocean Energy Management officials say could produce enough electricity to power about 2.3 million homes.

A second project has also been proposed about 56 nautical miles off Lake Charles, which would cover 188,023 acres. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management officials said the second project could generate enough electricity for 799,000 homes.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, officials said it was still early in the process and the proposed wind power area is still in draft form. They invite public comment on the proposed area and leases on their website. They will virtually hold two public meetings on the proposals on August 9 and 11.

BOEM officials said it would be up to states and wind developers to determine whether the electricity generated would be interconnected with ERCOT or the nearby East Coast Interconnector.

The announcement is part of a Biden administration initiative to help develop 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind generation by 2030, a stunning increase from the 42 megawatts of electricity produced by the two offshore wind farms alone. currently operating nationwide. Both of these projects are in state waters – and there are currently no projects underway in federal waters.

RELATED: As developers push for leases, offshore wind looms as America’s next big energy boom

Fifteen other projects are in the licensing phase and eight states have set targets to acquire a combined 39,298 megawatts by 2040, according to the US Department of Energy. One megawatt is enough to power about 200 homes on a hot summer day.

Wind power along the Gulf Coast tends to be strongest near Corpus Christi and Brownsville, but declines as it reaches Florida, according to a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management study.

Gulf Coast winds are still not as strong or as consistent as those on the East Coast, where existing offshore wind farms are located, said Michael Matthews, US representative for the energy-promoting World Forum Offshore Wind. wind turbine all over the world.

“It’s not fantastic,” Matthews said of the wind in the gulf in an October 2021 interview. do with the North Sea in Europe or the Northeast (United States).”

READ MORE: The Biden administration wants to open the Gulf to offshore wind power. Is Texas ready?

The Gulf, however, is attractive to wind developers because of its existing offshore infrastructure, Matthews said.

The request for comments for draft leases is part of the first of four stages of offshore wind development. The second step is to sell the leases and carry out more detailed environmental impact studies; the third is site assessments; and the fourth is construction and operation. It can take around 10 years from the initial stage of offshore wind development before wind turbines are operational.

Plans for offshore wind development in the Gulf lag behind plans along the East Coast. Offshore wind leases have already been put up for sale in North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.

This is a developing story, check back for updates.

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