Main Reasons Why U.S. Still Doesn’t See Offshore Wind Turbines

Main Reasons Why U.S. Still Doesn’t See Offshore Wind Turbines

Even though offshore wind plans got moving more rapidly in the last few months, there are still no offshore wind turbines “blowing” energy into the United States’ homes.

While Europe and China are leading in this energy sector, there are top four reasons why the U.S. did not put any wind turbines off its shores so far, according to The Guardian.

First of all, the financial support from the Federal Government is still not enough to put the wind energy in the spot to compete with fossil fuels. The Congress extended the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Incentive Tax Credit (ITC) at the beginning of this year. However, the renewables industry needs better support from the Government, as it currently relies mostly on private investments.

Secondly, issues on environmental and visual impact are blocking the way to offshore wind proposals. The opposition to offshore wind farms, based on these issues, is very strong and vocal in the U.S. “Wildlife issues are often used as a reason to oppose a project even by those who have never cared about animals before,” The Guardian quotes Catherine Bowes, a senior analyst with the National Wildlife Federation.

Furthermore, there is no appropriate equipment to handle huge and heavy wind turbine components. Nevertheless, New Jersey-based Weeks Marine is constructing the country’s first wind turbine vessel, expected to be completed by 2014.

What is more, foreign vessels   are subject to a law called the Jones Act from 1920, which obliges any ship that sails between two U.S. ports to fly a U.S. flag and to be registered in the U.S. Once the offshore wind turbine foundation is installed ‒ it counts as a port. This means that wind turbine installation vessels sailing from European countries would not be able to dock in the U.S.

Finally, there is the state-federal tension. The licenses for the U.S. sites are awarded by the Federal Government, and the contracts with utilities are sorted by the state governments. Developers, which have already been chosen by some states to construct offshore wind projects, are concerned that the regulations from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on auctions of the offshore wind areas will lead to a competition between them and other developers that will apply.


Offshore WIND Staff, March 6, 2013; Image: Cape Wind

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