Low wind power generation is largely to blame for Europe’s ongoing energy crisis and scramble to import more fossil fuels, according to a Reuters report.

Biden Admin Rolls Out Lease For Offshore Wind In Texas Gulf Despite Potential Hurricane Risks

The Biden administration is leasing nearly 300,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday for offshore wind developments, despite potential risks to the infrastructure that strong hurricanes may pose.
US Energy. By Nick Pope, DCNF.

The Biden administration is leasing nearly 300,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday for offshore wind developments, despite potential risks to the infrastructure that strong hurricanes may pose.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) will lease three zones in total, with two off the coast of Galveston, Texas, and one area near Lake Charles, Louisiana, according to Reuters.

As many as 15 companies are eligible to place bids with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for the sale, even as questions persist about the long-term viability of offshore wind farms in a region prone to strong hurricanes.

Hurricane gusts, including the differences in wind direction and strength at different heights of the eye of a powerful storm, are capable of severely damaging or destroying offshore wind turbines if a storm is powerful enough, according to a 2017 study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

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There is at least a 30% chance that hurricanes would destroy at least 10% of a wind farm over the course of 20 years in the Gulf region, according to another study conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in 2012.

The Biden administration’s offshore wind push is a key pillar of its goals to have the American energy sector achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2035 and to have the overall U.S. economy reach net-zero by 2050.

“Although hurricanes and lower wind speeds may be challenges, they may be offset by other benefits, such as lower average sea states and warmer ocean waters, that may increase turbine accessibility and lower operation and maintenance costs,” a BOEM spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The Gulf is well-positioned to transition to a renewable energy future.”

Other than hurricanes, soft underwater soil and generally lower wind speeds in the area may also trouble offshore wind projects in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Reuters. Southeastern electricity prices also tend to be lower than those in the Northeast, the leading offshore wind region in the U.S., which means that expensive offshore wind-generated electricity may not be able to effectively compete for contracts with electricity produced by other sources.

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Additionally, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is conducting a probe to fully understand the technology’s potential ecological, logistical and military impacts. It is unclear when a final report may be released.

The Biden administration recently issued nominally voluntary suggestions for offshore oil and gas operators to follow in a reduced lease area in the Gulf of Mexico. Those suggestions result from a settlement reached between the Biden administration and environmental groups who had sued on the grounds that the government had not adequately forecasted the lease’s impacts on the Rice’s whale.

The suggested measures, which include speed restrictions and limitations for when oil and gas vessels can transit a vast designated swath of the Gulf, do not apply to the offshore wind lease areas, the BOEM spokesperson told the DCNF.

As opposed to offshore oil infrastructure, which has technology installed specifically for major storms, offshore wind turbines are generally exposed to hurricane force winds, according to a Carnegie Mellon study and the National Ocean Industries Association.

DOI and the White House did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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