The United States is setting up for the next movement in offshore wind development – the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, there are only two United States wind farms in operation – one in North Carolina and one in Rhode Island. Offshore wind power is a popular form of energy generation across the globe. The top three leaders in wind power are China, the United Kingdom, and Germany. To understand the power behind offshore wind’s migration to the Gulf, it’s important to understand offshore wind power itself.
Wind turbines alone are massive structures – the average height of an onshore wind turbine is about one-third the height of the Empire State Building. Offshore wind turbines are much larger, with an average height of about half that of the Empire State Building. Turbines are placed in groups within certain areas in the ocean to capture energy from the wind. The captured energy is then transferred by cables to offshore substations and then to onshore substations which are linked to a power grid.
Offshore wind power’s benefits are plentiful. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about forty percent of the American population lives in counties along the coast. These residents could soon see lowered electricity costs for customers. States like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida could also potentially see benefits to their oil and gas industries as well; Louisiana and Texas specifically have many petrochemical accommodations. This could mean a future partnership between power companies, wind energy, and industrial companies as they work together to power their inhabitants.
The revolution of bringing more power to wind power started with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act which consists of several conditions related to offshore wind. This includes leasing provisions, transmission planning, and tax credits. The act will push the United States back into the Gulf, which would in turn create jobs for thousands of Americans in the wind power industry. The American Clean Power Association published a report estimating about 17,500 jobs being created to support two wind farm sites off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas.
Overall, turbines in the Gulf can be expected to be operational by 2028 according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The leased spaces will contain between 2,500 and 4,400 square miles of ocean, which translates to 73,000 construction jobs and 28,000 operations positions. For those looking for jobs in wind – be prepared to see a swift increase in positions over the next several years.