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Biden approves largest offshore wind project in US history

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday (Oct 31) approved a plan to build the United States’ largest ever offshore wind farm, which would power hundreds of thousands of homes with clean energy.

Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project is located 23.5 nautical miles off Virginia Beach and marks the fifth such offshore wind plan under the Biden administration, which has come under fire from environmentalists for also greenlighting several new major fossil fuel leases.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement the decision demonstrated the government’s commitment to “the clean energy future,” adding it would respond to the climate crisis, lower energy costs, and create new jobs.

The project is expected to provide hundreds of jobs in both the construction and operational phase, as well as generate regional economic development, the statement added.

In all, the five new offshore wind approvals are set to supply five gigawatts of energy to the national grid, with 2.6 gigawatts – more than half – from the CVOW.

The United States has set a goal of 30 gigawatts of wind energy by 2030, as part of its broader goal of meeting its commitments to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and a carbon free power sector by 2035.

But the sector has been held back by bottlenecks in leasing and permitting projects. By comparison, Europe’s wind industry is “decades ahead”, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress think tank, with 25 gigawatts generation capacity as of 2020, according to Wind Europe – hundreds of times the current US capacity.

Bob Blue, Dominion Energy’s chair, president and CEO said in a recent statement after the delivery of the first wind turbine foundations that the project “continues to move forward on time and on budget” with installation of the 176 turbines beginning in 2024 and expected to conclude in late 2026.

Dominion estimated it would power 660,000 homes.

The approval comes on the heels of an announcement last month the administration would auction three new oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico, triggering a furious reaction from environmental groups who said the move would accelerate climate change.

Biden ordered a pause on new drilling soon after taking office, but analysts say he has been restricted in what he can accomplish because of court decisions overturning the pause and the delicate balance of power in Congress.

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