The latest government budget progressing through its stages has allocated increased spending on offshore renewable development to facilitate this growing industry.
The US President proposed a $188.8 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget for BOEM to safely and responsibly manage offshore energy and mineral resources. The PUS FY 2021 budget request reflects careful analysis and focuses on the execution of BOEM’s mission, including offshore oil and gas exploration and leasing, offshore renewable energy development, marine minerals management, and science-based analyses. This is about $5 million larger than the previous allocation earmarked for offshore wind, bringing the total to $26.5 million over the current $21.3 million.
“President Trump’s 2021 budget request for the Department is about investing in our people and public lands and waters," said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. "He is committed to the mission of conservation and creating more public access for Americans to fully enjoy our national treasures and landscapes.”
The BOEM budget also features increased spending on Environmental Programs. The FY 2021 allocation includes $75.9 million for BOEM’s Environmental Programs. Science is vital to BOEM’s mission to manage offshore energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible manner. BOEM conducts its environmental analyses in a transparent, coordinated, and streamlined fashion to ensure that decisions regarding potential environmental impacts are informed by the best available science. Under the proposed budget, BOEM will continue to use environmental science as the foundation for sound policy decisions. This will be of benefit to making sound decisions about renewables and their interaction with the existing ecosystem.
Unfortunately the budget also proposes to slash other areas of environmental and renewable energy support - The administration would cut DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 75%, from $2.85 billion to $720 million.
Within that, the proposed cuts to EERE would reduce spending on solar energy technology from $280 million to $67 million and reduce investment in wind technology from $104 million to $22 million, according to DOE documents. The current administration believes that “green” projects such as emissions reduction are unnecessary and that there is a lot of “waste” in the organization, so it needs to be drastically reduced in size.
The budget does have one enlightened area: the DOE's plans to put $190 million into the Energy Storage Grand Challenge program - research effort for grid-scale storage meant as a 10-year challenge to reduce the costs and deployment of storage technologies, similar to DOE's SunShot Initiative for solar.
That total includes $40 million for a "Grid Storage Launchpad" within the Office of Electricity. EERE, meanwhile, would see $97 million dedicated to supporting the Energy Storage Grand Challenge.
"The next generation of batteries, we think, will revolutionize how renewable energy can be integrated into the grid," said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. "It will make wind and solar more reliable."
So the proposed budget for 2021 comprises mixed messages for proponents of renewable energy – there are areas of increase, and also quite heavy cuts. It is not clear what direction the government is going as some inputs are positive and others negative. Hopefully the additional spending available to BOEM will help it to support current and planned OW projects.
The US offshore wind market is probably the most rapidly-developing renewable energy sector in the world. Follow #USOW20 for the latest news and expert opinions.
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