Earlier in the week, the Biden administration made some aggressive announcements regarding its commitment to offshore wind. 

According to Joe Martens, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance, the administration’s plans include a new wind energy area, establishing a target of 30 gigawatts (30,000 megawatts) of offshore wind by 2030, and investing in infrastructure to strengthen the wind turbine supply chain. 

The 30-gigawatt goal is enough to power about 10 million homes.

Martens told Capital Tonight that the administration made the announcements in “a very cross-government style,” with multiple cabinet members and White House staff.

“There was an announcement from the Department of Transportation for funding available for port infrastructure. There was a lease from the Commerce Department on a big data sharing agreement on offshore wind. And there was a statement from Interior about designating a new wind energy area off the coastline of New York and New Jersey, an area known as the New York Bight,” Martens said. 

The news regarding the Bight is especially significant to New York because the state has an ambitious climate law requiring 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035.  

The constraining factor in that goal has been the availability of lease areas off the coast. 

“We’d be good, probably, to get to New York’s midway target of 70% renewable energy by 2030, but at that point, there becomes a bottleneck because of all the demand from other east coast states both north and south of New York,” Martens said. “So, a new wind energy area is essential if we’re going to get to that 9,000 megawatts by 2035.”

The portion of the New York Bight in question is about 800,000 acres, total. The Biden administration has outlined four distinct areas to be developed off the New York and New Jersey coastlines. 

While the Biden administration has designated the Bight area for offshore wind, there is still a lot of work to be done before any wind turbines are erected there. For example, the designation needs an environmental assessment as well as a proposed sales notice, followed by public comments and a final sales notice.

“It could take at least until the end of this year, probably early 2022,” said Martens. “But if they stick with the designations that they proposed, that would provide enough capacity for about 10,000 megawatts, or 10 gigawatts.”

In other words, it would more than satisfy the off shore wind goals of both New York and New Jersey.

So just how big is the total — 30 gigawatt — proposal compared to what individual states are planning? 

If you add up the energy goals of all the east coast states, there are 22 gigawatts of offshore wind demand. Martens calls the Biden administration’s 30-gigawatt goal, “aspirational but not unreasonable.”