Maryland Offshore Wind: Accelerating Clean Energy Progress
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Maryland is making significant strides in developing and harnessing the power of offshore wind energy, setting a solid example for other states to follow in the pursuit of renewable energy solutions. The state recognizes the immense potential of Maryland offshore wind, as it can generate nearly twice the amount of electricity consumed by the nation annually, with the majority of demand stemming from significant cities along the coasts.
This development is environmentally beneficial and promises economic advantages and job opportunities for the state. Four Offshore Renewable Energy Credit (OREC) projects are underway, which will provide 2022.5 MW of offshore wind capacity. One of these projects, known as MarWin, is being developed by US Wind Inc. and is expected to generate approximately 300 MW of clean energy – enough to power over 92,000 Maryland homes.
With an estimated operational life expectancy of over 25 years, these offshore wind projects will significantly contribute to the state’s renewable energy infrastructure and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As these projects advance through various stages of development, they will create numerous job opportunities and long-term economic benefits for Maryland residents.
By harnessing the power of offshore wind energy, Maryland is well on its way to becoming a leader in renewable and clean energy development and decarbonizing its electricity grid for a more sustainable future.
Maryland and Offshore Wind
Maryland actively pursues offshore wind as a key component of its renewable energy initiatives. The state has recognized the potential benefits of utilizing this clean, renewable energy source to meet its energy consumption demands, create new jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions1.
According to the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), offshore wind energy presents an opportunity for Maryland to secure new economic benefits. It is estimated that offshore wind could generate twice the amount of electricity consumed annually in the nation, with 80% of the demand consumed in major coastal cities.
One of the key players in developing offshore wind turbines in Maryland is US Wind, a leading offshore wind energy company. US Wind’s first-phase project, “MarWin,” is an offshore wind facility aiming to deliver approximately 300 MW of clean, renewable electricity to Maryland by constructing 22 or fewer turbines more than 20 miles from the shore.
In addition to the MarWin Offshore Wind Project, four projects currently involve Offshore Renewable Energy Credits (ORECs) with a total offshore wind capacity of 2,022.5 MW. These projects are expected to generate an estimated 7,162,286 MWh each year, enough renewable electricity to power 600,000 Maryland homes.
This vast amount of energy production is expected to contribute significantly to Maryland’s public health by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from traditional energy sources.
Furthermore, offshore wind energy projects are regulated at the federal level. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) oversees offshore wind energy leasing, development, and management on the Outer Continental Shelf.
In Maryland, BOEM held a competitive lease sale offshore in 2014. US Wind Inc. emerged as the winner of Lease Area OCS-A 0490, a 46,970-acre area located 10 nautical miles offshore Ocean City, Maryland, in federal waters.
Maryland’s commitment to offshore wind energy development demonstrates its dedication to renewable energy, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. As these projects progress, they will undoubtedly impact the state’s energy landscape and overall quality of life for its residents.
The Offshore Wind Supply Chain
Role of Businesses and Developers
Maryland’s offshore wind supply chain involves various businesses and developers working together to build and maintain offshore wind energy projects. These businesses cut across multiple sectors, including manufacturing, installation, and operations.
The Maryland Offshore Wind Supply Chain Investment Program aims to facilitate the growth of these businesses by providing financial assistance and support.
Several new and existing businesses in Maryland are involved in the offshore wind supply chain. These companies play vital roles, including manufacturing components, providing engineering consultancy, and offering offshore transport and logistical services.
On the other hand, developers oversee offshore wind energy projects’ planning, financing, and construction. They coordinate with local businesses across the supply chain to ensure that projects are completed efficiently and in line with state regulations.
Economic and Capital Expenditures
Offshore wind development in Maryland is expected to bring significant economic benefits, with at least $1.5 billion in in-state expenditures, including investments in various sectors:
- $40 million for port infrastructure
- $76 million for steel fabrication
- $150 million for monopile foundation manufacturing
- $140 million for subsea cable manufacturing
- $100+ million for turbine components
In addition, the Maryland Offshore Wind Supply Chain Investment Program is anticipated to make $1.5 million in non-competitive grants available to support new or existing offshore wind supply chain businesses.
These capital expenditures support the growth of Maryland’s offshore wind sector and contribute to revitalizing the state’s manufacturing and maritime industries. This investment in offshore wind infrastructure, in turn, helps create thousands of new jobs, foster local economic development, and promote clean, renewable, and affordable energy for Maryland residents.
Development and Construction of Offshore Wind
Legal and Regulatory Framework
State and federal authorities establish a series of regulatory frameworks and permits to facilitate the growth and utilization of Maryland’s offshore wind energy potential. The Maryland Offshore Wind Project operates under a Construction and Operations Plan (COP), which lays out necessary operating details for developing offshore wind energy projects.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) oversees the implementation of these projects, starting with the Site Assessment Plan and continuing through the construction and operation phases.
A crucial step in this process is the publication of a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register, which opens a public comment period allowing stakeholders to offer input on the project’s potential impact. For example, regarding the Maryland Offshore Wind draft EIS, the public comment period ran from October 6, 2023, to November 20, 2023.
Additionally, lease sales and notices of intent must be issued by relevant authorities to ensure proper site allocation for offshore wind farm developments in lease areas.
Role of Port Infrastructure and Project Developers
To accommodate offshore wind facilities’ construction and subsequent operation, the Maryland Energy Administration promotes the development of port infrastructure and partnerships with project developers. This is essential for facilitating the successful deployment of projects such as MarWin and Momentum Wind.
Port infrastructure plays a vital role in providing necessary resources for the assembly, maintenance, and support of offshore wind projects. It must accommodate large-scale components like turbines and towers while handling transport and logistical challenges.
On the other hand, project developers are responsible for devising and executing plans that adhere to legal and regulatory frameworks while collaborating with stakeholders and contractors to ensure the projects are completed within budget and on schedule.
The cooperation between port infrastructure and project developers drives offshore wind energy projects’ successful construction and operation. This collaboration contributes to the growth of renewable electricity generation, enabling Maryland to increase its percentage of generated power from clean, sustainable sources.
Environmental Impact and Public Engagement
Research and Review Procedures
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has conducted a thorough environmental review of the proposed Maryland Offshore Wind project. As part of this review, they have prepared a comprehensive Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which assesses the project’s potential effects on the marine environment and other aspects, such as air quality, biological resources, and human activities. The EIS follows robust research and review procedures to ensure the accuracy of its findings.
Public Comments and Meetings
To engage the public and collect input on the Draft EIS, BOEM has initiated a public comment period, which began on October 6, 2023, and ended on November 20, 2023. During this period, stakeholders and the general public were encouraged to provide comments and feedback on the environmental assessment.
To further facilitate public engagement, BOEM has set up a virtual meeting room, enabling individuals to access relevant project documents and information and join virtual meetings to discuss the project’s environmental impact.
This approach ensures that drafting the final Environmental Impact Statement incorporates public input to effectively address concerns and mitigate potential effects on the marine environment and other aspects.
By conducting a thorough environmental review and encouraging public engagement, BOEM aims to ensure that the Maryland Offshore Wind project is developed responsibly and sustainably, considering the complex interactions between the project and the surrounding environment.
Workforce and Economic Benefits
Emerging Business Opportunities
Maryland is positioning itself as a leader in the offshore wind industry, with significant potential for economic benefits and job creation. The state is committed to procuring nearly 40,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2040, contributing to the growing demand for clean energy. This commitment opens up opportunities for emerging manufacturing, supply chain, and support services businesses.
Moreover, the Maryland Offshore Wind Workforce and Education Program offers grant funding to support industry events, workforce training, and educational initiatives. This funding presents a valuable opportunity for new and established companies involved in the offshore wind industry.
Maryland has been awarded nearly $23 million under the Good Jobs Challenge grant program to foster a strong workforce. These funds will support the emerging offshore wind industry, workforce development, and adult learning initiatives.
With such substantial investment in the sector, it is evident that Maryland is dedicated to cultivating a skilled workforce that can meet the needs of this rapidly expanding industry. Among the workforce development efforts, the Maryland Energy Administration has announced the return of two offshore wind grant programs:
- Maryland Offshore Wind Capital Expenditure Grant Program
- Maryland Offshore Wind Workforce Training Grant Program
These programs aim to provide capital for investment in the growing industry and offer targeted training for the future workforce. Maryland is poised to benefit economically and environmentally from the booming offshore wind market by focusing on workforce development and facilitating opportunities for its residents.