The future of Texas offshore wind : analyzing case studies

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Date

2022-12-14

Authors

Swales, William David

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Abstract

Offshore wind energy can generate renewable energy and Northern Europe already uses it as an electricity source (windeurope.org, n.d.). While some in the United States (US) have been reluctant to embrace offshore wind power, the Biden administration has advocated increasing East-Coast offshore wind power generation to up to 30 gigawatts (Eilerin & Dennis, 2021). In 2020, Texas generated approximately 20 percent of its electricity from onshore wind turbines (EIA, Today in Energy, 2020). Texas has not invested in offshore wind energy generation along hundreds of miles of available Gulf of Mexico coastline. This study describes environmental impacts case studies of previously developed United States offshore wind farms to establish recommendations for what an offshore wind farm in Texas could look like. Two case studies along the Texas Gulf Coast are used as potential guides for future Texas offshore wind development. An analysis of infrastructure requirement, environmental impacts, policy and levelized cost of energy is included to inform recommendations for further wind developments. The levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of offshore wind is compared with costs of natural gas combined cycle electricity to estimate the approximate comparative cost of those sources through 2050. Such an analysis does not deal with the real full costs, benefits, and risks of offshore wind generation, nor does it define the full range of demand and supply options for Texas’ electricity supply options. However, based on data from the Energy Information Agency and other sources, this limited LCOE provides a context for costs associated with offshore wind. The 2021 Texas winter storm exposed the vulnerability of Texas’ electrical grid. Texas would benefit from more reliable and stable energy capacity to meet demands of a rapidly growing population in one of the fastest growing states in the country. An offshore wind industry could provide security to Texas’ energy future if it represents a wise investment. This study provides a case study guide with recommendations for possible wind farm creation off the Texas Gulf Coast.

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