Two new studies have been released by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) analyzing different renewable energy technologies and the economic impact of wind projects.
“Offshore Renewable Energy Technologies in the Gulf of Mexico” assessed multiple offshore renewable energy technologies to determine which are best suited for development in the Gulf of Mexico.
The renewable technologies that were included are: wind, wave, tidal, current, solar, deepwater source cooling, and hydrogen.
Offshore wind showed the greatest resource potential when applied to the Gulf of Mexico and is the most mature technology of those analyzed for the region.
Offshore solar photovoltaics had the greatest gross potential resource but, without a demonstrable method of surviving extreme waves on the open ocean, none of that resource was counted toward the technical resource potential.
Although multiple wave energy conversion devices have been deployed, there has not been sustained operation of any wave device for enough time to demonstrate commercial operation or predictable energy production profiles.
Tidal energy has had some pre-commercial success globally and is approaching commercialization in some projects, partly due to the adaptation of horizontal axis wind energy technology, which has similar engineering attributes, but the tidal resource is generally small, limiting deployment and slowing industry maturation.
Ocean current technology has only been validated at the laboratory and/or prototype scale; no prototypes have yet been deployed in open ocean, despite the similarities to tidal turbines.
Hydrogen conversion using electrolysis has been technically proven and significantly larger demonstration projects continue to be deployed. Successful deployment in an offshore ocean application would be technically feasible with a significant amount of additional testing. However, hydrogen as a means of energy transport from offshore wind installations does not appear to be economically feasible under any scenario investigated.
This conclusion is based on the quantification and relative scoring based on three factors: resource adequacy, technology readiness, and cost competitiveness.
The other study “Offshore Wind in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico: Regional Economic Modeling & Site-Specific Analyses” assessed offshore wind energy resources in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and quantified its technical and economic potential.
The economic analysis shows that a single offshore wind project could support approximately 4.470 jobs and $445 million in GDP during construction, and an ongoing 150 jobs and $14 million annually from operation and maintenance labor, materials, and services.