AUSTIN - Offshore wind could provide Texas with 166% of its electricity needs, according to a new report released today by Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. Last year, the federal government identified Port Isabel and Port Arthur as viable sites for offshore wind and selected the two Texas towns for more detailed cost analysis. Environment Texas called on the state of Texas to form a task force to begin siting offshore wind.
“With strong winds in the evenings when we need energy the most, offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico would greatly complement Texas’ onshore renewable energy resources and help us achieve 100% clean power,” said Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas Research & Policy Center. “We can put the infrastructure and expertise we developed for offshore drilling to work developing this abundant, clean resource.”
The report, Offshore Wind for America, documents that offshore wind technology is advanced and proven, widely deployed in Europe and Asia, and continues to improve. There are more than 5,500 offshore turbines currently deployed around the world, and more than 27 gigawatts (GW) of installed generating capacity – enough to power 7.3 million U.S. homes. The United States already has many projects in the development pipeline, although none yet in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to two operational pilot projects, the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, there are 34 proposals for offshore wind development, which includes 27 projects in various stages of planning and development. Together, they total more than 26 GW of site capacity.
Metzger said the Gulf of Mexico has unique attributes, and challenges, for developing offshore wind. Shallow, warm water, smaller waves, and existing offshore infrastructure and expertise are an advantage, while lower wind speeds and hurricane risk are challenges.
Last year, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that trends show offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico will be economical without subsidies by the early 2030s, with a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) as low as $70/MWh. The report said that price parity could be achieved sooner if not for a “lack of current state policy commitments that are driving offshore wind development in other regions of the US.”
In November, Louisiana Governor Edwards launched a task force to coordinate commercial leasing proposals for wind energy in federal waters off Louisiana’s coast. Environment Texas called on Governor Abbott, Land Commissioner Bush and other state leaders to take similar steps to develop offshore wind off the Texas coast.
According to NREL, a 600-megawatt project off the Port Arthur shore “could support approximately 4,470 jobs with $445 million in gross domestic product (GDP) during construction and an ongoing 150 jobs with $14 million GDP annually from operation and maintenance labor, materials, and services.”
“We have a lot of potential off our coast here in Texas and offshore wind can play a key part in building a robust and resilient energy system. As we look to a future of electrification and 100 percent renewable energy, there is no question offshore wind will play a key role.”
Environment Texas Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmenttexascenter.org.