The US Department of the Interior is to hold the first-ever sale of offshore wind energy leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The areas being auctioned include a 160 sq mile area off Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas off Galveston, Texas, one of 160 sq miles and the other 151 sq miles. Together, these have the potential to generate around 3.7 GW. The auction will take place on 29 August 2023, and be managed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
“The Gulf of Mexico is poised to play a key role in our nation’s transition to a clean energy future," said BOEM director Elizabeth Klein. Today’s announcement follows years of engagement with government agencies, states, ocean users, and stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico region.”
Bidders will need to comply with various lease stipulations including commitments to supporting workforce training programmes, developing a domestic supply chain, establishing and contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund and provide a regular progress report summarising engagement with Tribes and ocean users potentially affected by proposed offshore wind energy activities.
BOEM and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have conducted a study to identify the renewable energy technologies best suited for development in the Gulf of Mexico. The study revealed that in terms of offshore technologies, offshore wind held the greatest potential. The Gulf has adequate wind resources – 638 GW of offshore wind potential according to NREL. However the study highlighted that offshore wind technology innovation will be needed, to optimise energy capture in the lower wind areas, and to increase understanding of hurricane risk to the technology.