Wind-blown? Why Gulf of Mexico region is ready to step in if New Jersey slow-plays offshore efforts

Area, which knows thing or two about energy, is auctioning off offshore areas Tuesday

Politicians certainly have the right to debate the value of the offshore wind industry in New Jersey. After all, plenty of dollars — and even more votes — could be at stake.

But, if anyone looking to slow the growth of the industry is wondering how any pause could impact it, a recent study offers insights.

The Business Network for Offshore Wind this week released a report, Unlocking the Gulf of Mexico’s Offshore Wind Energy Potential, addressing the region’s unique potential for offshore wind development.

The report highlights how the Gulf of Mexico’s history of innovation, robust offshore oil and gas experience — and strong supply chain — has the potential to catapult offshore wind growth in the region.

It also addresses the key hurdles, such as how the industry will need to develop technology that can maximize power output from an environment with lower average wind speeds than the East Coast, coupled with seasonal hurricane activity, which must be overcome for the region to be successful.

John Begala, vice president for federal and state policy at the Business Network for Offshore Wind, offered his insights.

“The Gulf of Mexico is uniquely prepared for the offshore wind industry with decades of offshore energy experience already under its belt,” he said. “Yes, the region has hurdles to overcome, including the creation of a regulatory framework for power offtake and the need to maximize generation in a lower wind speed environment. However, as has been the case for more than 70 years, the creative solutions developed here will impact the global offshore wind market.”

Unlocking the Gulf breaks down the offshore wind development process and highlights Gulf-based companies that have already been participating in the industry — despite the lack of projects in Gulf waters to this point.

More than one in five offshore wind contracts identified by the Network’s Market Dashboard have gone to companies based in the Gulf of Mexico, demonstrating the region’s strong expertise.

The report was released Monday, the day before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s first lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico takes place.

Tuesday’s auction will include three lease areas covering a total of over 300,000 acres: one area off the coast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two others off the coast of Galveston, Texas. Together, these areas have the capacity to generate up to 3,700 megawatts of offshore wind power that will further boost the U.S.’s goal of 30 gigawatts by 2030.