Good news came out of Delaware today with the announcement that an offshore wind lease has been granted eleven miles off the state’s coast, serving as the first lease completed under the Department of the Interior’s ‘Smart from the Start’ initiative designed to responsibly develop offshore wind. And with the findings of a recent study, the emerging offshore wind industry has outstanding potential to not only strengthen our energy security, but create jobs and benefit the American economy.
A study conducted for the Atlantic Wind Connection confirmed earlier this month that large-scale development of offshore wind would create more than 70,000 jobs through the manufacturing, building, operating, and maintaining of massive turbines in the Mid-Atlantic region. With the 40,000 additional jobs needed to serve this supply chain, this adds up to over 110,000 new jobs created by the development of this nascent industry on the East Coast.
Additionally, increased activity surrounding the ports used for the construction and maintenance of offshore turbines can supply another 50,000 jobs to local economies as those employed by the industry frequent local restaurants, groceries and other small businesses.
However, our coastal waters are already bustling with activity and introducing this new industry only adds to the mix. The overwhelming amount of data and information needed to effectively balance ocean uses and preserve fragile marine ecosystems hinders the development of new activity on our coasts, including activities that will enhance America’s ocean economy with the development of renewable energy resources.
Fortunately progress is being made. Current research efforts such as the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Mid-Atlantic Baseline Study and the launch of regional data portals in New England and the Mid-Atlantic are beginning to provide the necessary information to inform siting and permitting of future projects and avoid potential conflicts. And with federal support through the National Ocean Policy, coordinated interagency processes can provide the data, analysis, public engagement and monitoring needed to identify and resolve issues to move the process forward efficiently while safeguarding our marine environment.
Offshore energy developers have said that the National Ocean Policy and comprehensive ocean planning makes smart business sense and will not only help provide clean energy for our nation, but will also create the new jobs our economy needs. The potential for job growth and energy production from offshore wind development is incredible, and with informed and coordinated planning, we can all benefit.