Biden administration announces first Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sales

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced the first-ever lease sale for offshore wind power in the Gulf of Mexico, part of a wider goal of installing offshore wind up and down the U.S. coasts.

The Interior Department will open over 300,000 acres in the Gulf, long dominated by fossil fuel production. In 2010, the Gulf was the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest marine oil spill in history, in which about 210 million gallons leaked into the ocean.

“America’s clean energy transition is happening right here and now. At the Department, we are taking action to jump-start our offshore wind industry and harness American innovation to deliver reliable, affordable power to homes and businesses,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

“There is no time to waste in making bold investments to address the climate crisis, and building a strong domestic offshore wind industry is key to meeting that challenge head on.”

The Biden administration has set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, as part of a broader goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions by half in the same period. By 2035, the administration aims to deploy a further 15 gigawatts through floating turbines.

The announcement follows earlier administration announcements of lease sales off the East and West coasts of the U.S. In December, the first auction for leases off the Pacific coast fetched more than $757 million. Meanwhile, in February 2022, a lease sale in the New York Bight pulled in an unprecedented $4.37 billion.

The announcement also comes the same week as the 2023 U.S. Offshore Wind Market Report, which found state demand for offshore wind nearly doubled in 2022. Offshore wind contracts increased 36 percent last year, the majority of which went to U.S. firms, according to the report.