January 18, 2023 8:00 AM to 5:00 PMUptown Campus
The Gulf of Mexico has the potential to generate almost 510,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy per year. That is twice the current energy need of all five Gulf states, and larger than the potential offshore wind capacity of the Pacific Coast and the Great Lakes combined.
In June, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the federal agency that oversees offshore oil, gas, and wind permitting, initiated a process that will open the Gulf to wind lease sales by 2025, identifying an initial two zones for offshore wind power development: a promising opportunity for significant economic growth locally.
Even though the Gulf has weaker wind speeds compared to other wind energy areas nationally, the Gulf makes up for its relatively weak winds with other attributes. Its shallow waters reduce the need for tall, expensive turbines, and its warm temperatures and smaller wave heights will make construction and maintenance relatively easy and inexpensive. Port terminals and wharves are already located near the strong offshore wind resources. Some offshore oil platforms may gain a second life as wind energy substations or serve in other support roles.
However, what truly sets the Gulf apart is its primed and ready workforce. Many of the skills needed in the offshore oil and gas industry are directly transferable to building and servicing wind farms. Offshore wind leasing in the Gulf will test whether the Gulf region’s superior oil and gas supply chain, technical know-how, and skilled offshore workforce can accelerate the development of offshore wind beyond that of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
With the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Gulf region is ripe for an offshore wind boom. The IRA now requires oil and gas lease sales of 60 million acres in the course of the previous year as a pre-requisite for offshore wind lease sales. Who can match that nationally? The IRA also significantly supports offshore wind through the continuance of the Production Tax Credits, a renewed Investment Tax Credit, and new tax credits for offshore wind vessels.
As a final note, Louisiana companies rooted in the oil and gas industry helped build the U.S.’s first offshore wind farm, a five-turbine pilot project that began operating off the coast of Rhode Island in 2016. The Block Island Wind Farm enlisted steel fabricators in Houma, ship operators from Galliano and engineers from Mandeville.
Tulane Law School is the premier law school in the Gulf region focusing on offshore wind law. This promises to be a fruitful conference. We hope to see you on Wednesday January 18th, 2023!