6.6 A Climate Benefits Analysis as a Result of Development of Federal Offshore Wind Energy Leases

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 4:45 PM
Room 346/347 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Angel McCoy, McCoy Environmental Group, Inc., Hyattsville, MD
Manuscript (907.2 kB)

Scholars, scientists and many policymakers would agree that climate change is a genuine threat to the earth. Further, they would agree that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are the main contributor to climate change. The energy sector, through the burning of coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions contributing 26% of 2004 global greenhouse gas emissions . As the United States embarks on a new frontier of clean energy alternatives, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has the responsibility of leasing for renewable energy development in the ocean environment. BOEM's mission is to promote energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore renewable energy. BOEM grants leases, easements, and rights-of-way for safe and environmentally responsible renewable energy development activities on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The renewable energy program of BOEM anticipates future development on the OCS from three general sources: offshore wind energy, ocean wave energy, and current energy. The Cape Wind Energy Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (2009) found that operation of the 1,600 GWh of power that the Cape Wind Energy Facility would result in the potential to provide benefits in terms of lowering emissions of greenhouse gases and ozone precursors attributed to power production in the New England area . Total CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in 2004 were 190.8 million tons in the New England area, of that, electric power generation contributed 24 percent to the total. The Cape Wind Energy Facility will be a 130 turbine commercial wind energy project. Analysis shows that the potential reduction in the growth of CO2 emissions due to the operation of the facility would be about one percent of the 2009 total projected increase of 84 tons per year in New England from 2005 to 2014. BOEM has issued seven commercial wind energy leases to date: ● Cape Wind Associates, LLC, for an area offshore Massachusetts (2010) ● Bluewater Wind Delaware, LLC, for an area offshore Delaware (2012) ● Deepwater Wind New England, LLC, for two leases offshore Rhode Island/Massachusetts (2013) ● Virginia Electric and Power Company (dba Dominion Virginia Power), for one lease offshore Virginia (2013) ● US Wind Inc., for two leases offshore Maryland (2014) ● RES America Developments, Inc., for one lease offshore Massachusetts (2015) ● Offshore MW, LLC, for one lease offshore Massachusetts (2015) BOEM has also issued two research leases to advance wind and marine hydrokinetic technologies: ● Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP) (2015) ○ 2 turbines approximately 24 miles offshore Virginia Beach will help inform future commercial activities offshore VA and the Mid-Atlantic ○ Dominion Virginia Power is the designated operator ● Florida Atlantic University (2014) ○ Located approximately 10 to 12 nautical miles offshore Fort Lauderdale, FL ○ Marine hydrokinetic technology testing offshore Florida to evaluate the use of submerged ocean current turbine prototypes powered by the Florida current Early studies suggest that development of the seven commercial wind energy leases would result in an annual reduction of approximately five tons of CO2. While this number is not significant, it does confirm that ongoing offshore renewable energy could potentially reduce anthropogenic contributors to climate change. The following report outlines the methodology used to conduct a benefits analysis for the climate based upon the development of the seven commercially leased federal offshore wind energy areas and the resulting conclusions.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner