BOEM Plans to Enhance Process of Identifying Wind Zones
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has proposed changes to how it finds potential offshore wind energy sites.
The BOEM will leverage scientific data and research to inform decisions about renewable energy planning, leasing, and development initiatives on the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) under the new processes.
As a result, the group will consult with ocean users to select the best available science and modelling approaches and continue to use the most up-to-date scientific data to identify areas on the US OCS with the fewest environmental impacts and conflicts while remaining technically and economically viable for potential wind projects.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) are among the organisations with which the BOEM will collaborate.
This will see the BOEM employ a spatial model that analyses entire marine ecosystems to identify the best areas for wind energy sites in the Gulf of Mexico, Central Atlantic and the Gulf of Maine, and offshore Oregon.
This tool will help inform the BOEM’s draft Wind Energy Areas (WEAs), which will be available for public review and comment before final WEA designations.
The BOEM and NOAA recently collaborated to use the NCCOS tool to identify draft WEAs in the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition, the BOEM aims to provide stakeholders with additional opportunities to contribute meaningful insight and add transparency and inclusivity to how it identifies WEAs.
Throughout the offshore wind planning process, the group said it will work with federal, state, local, and tribal partners, as well as stakeholders and ocean users, to gather information, data, and traditional knowledge to help identify WEAs on the US OCS that appear most suitable for commercial wind energy activities and have the fewest apparent environmental and user conflicts.
The BOEM has previously shared the analysis and rationale used to develop recommendations for the draft WEAs in the Gulf of Mexico on the BOEM’s webpage, a practice it will continue for other areas. As previously done in the Gulf of Mexico, the BOEM will release draft WEAs for public review and comment before designating final WEAs in the Central Atlantic and Gulf of Maine and offshore Oregon. The new processes were developed in response to feedback from the BOEM’s government partners and other stakeholders.