Offshore wind to the rescue! The Texas proposal could keep us cool when indoor wind farms can’t.

A strong breeze on a hot summer day. Is there anything better? Yes actually.

According to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a proposal for a new offshore wind farm larger than the city of Houston promises to take that Gulf Coast breeze and put it to work generating electricity for some 2.3 million households.

Part of a larger Biden administration proposal, the 546,645-acre farm 24 miles off the coast of Galveston would be just the latest in a boom in offshore activity along the country’s coast. With support from federal and state governments, improving technology, and several rounds of offshore wind leases this year, the industry has seen a burst of activity recently. .

The speed was particularly impressive for Luke Metzger, executive director of research and advocacy group Environment Texas. “The government doesn’t always act quickly,” Metzger told the Editorial Board in an email, “and I was impressed that BOEM got started and could start leasing the Gulf for wind as early as this fall. At the same time, they have been careful to weigh in on public comment and work to alleviate environmental concerns.

Offshore wind power would only bolster an already growing renewable energy industry here.

Texas leads in onshore wind power, which has become an essential part of the state’s energy mix. Drive through West Texas and you will see endless stretches of turbines. It is true that there is a time lag between the high demand for energy on hot summer afternoons and when the land wind picks up in the evening. But ERCOT’s attempt to blame the wind for the tight grid conditions earlier this summer is just hot air since no one expects the wind to blow at the same speed 24 hours a day. .

One pleasant exception, as Dan Solomon of the Texas Monthly pointed out: Onshore wind farms along the coast tend to perform best during those “stumbling summer days.” Offshore wind farms, on the other hand, could potentially do even better and help fill any power generation shortfalls, harvesting the most power during summer afternoons as well as the evening hours when solar productivity decreases.

In a state where preparing for grid outages now seems to be the new norm, electricity generated from a city-sized offshore wind farm would indeed be a welcome relief.

There’s still a lot up in the air, so to speak, for the proposal, which also includes a 188,023-acre wind farm on the coast of Louisiana’s Lake Charles. During the public comment period, the plans are expected to experience environmental impact. reviews and the rental process itself, although Metzger has said so far that he was comforted to see that “there is a good distance between wind power areas and the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary ”, for example, and that the proposal seems to take into account previous comments from Environment Texas, the National Wildlife Federation and other environmental groups which urged the BOEM to take into account “hot spots of abundance of species” as well as “areas of rare environmental significance” when selecting potential locations.

Ultimately, whether power produced at the potential wind farm off the coast of Galveston will make it to Texas and Houston will be up to developers and state officials, according to Shelby Webb, a reporter at the Houston Chronicle. Part of that decision hinges on the benefits to developers, as they weigh construction costs against potential power contracts as well as the infrastructure needs to deliver power and the considerations that come with generating on federal lands.

There are also a number of other concerns to be addressed with the Gulf Coast proposal, including how the development might affect fishing and shrimping gear. The feedback and review process should help resolve all these issues, but for now we’re tempted by the promise of a good breeze.

Heads of state have been reluctant to praise renewable resources such as solar and wind, even hampering their affordability with imposed “reliability costs” that represent little favoritism for coal, natural gas and nuclear after the winter storm of 2021. But the truth is, Texas is a leader. The state is leading the natural gas boom that has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the number of coal-fired power plants. It leads in the onshore wind. Now, Texas Solar is growing tremendously, with clutch grid performance already this summer.

The state should back its own success here and tout the climate-friendly, job-creating renewable energy industry as part of a robust, multi-pronged energy system.

A summer breeze may be priceless, but soon it could pay off.