A-16/23 Breaking wind: A comparison between U.S. and European approaches in offshore wind energy leadership in the North Atlantic region

Writers: Adam Gallaher, Marcello Graziano, Stephen Axon & Amanda Bertana

The United States has only recently begun investing in commercial-scale offshore wind energy (OWE). Although the United States is slow to progress, it is uniquely positioned to build on the existing knowledge that coastal European countries have applied for their own energy transitions. In this study, we analyze how federal and regional plans for expanding the OWE sector in the United States brought to the surface decade-long tensions related to multi-scale governance mismatches, jurisdictional conflicts, and unclear pathways for implementing national industrial policies. Drawing upon the European experience with OWE, we employ a dynamic multi-level perspective framework enriched by socio-ecological elements to examine the United States energy transition through its most promising technology. From our framework we identify six categories of OWE developments characterized by both unique and shared elements between the United States and European coastal countries. These elements are: (1) role of local communities, (2) governance structures, (3) multi-scale government interactions, (4) regional socioeconomic structures, (5) socio-ecological impacts, and (6) relationships with existing industries. Drawing upon our analysis, we identify and conceptually map four research areas in need of further development for the United States and the research community— (1) knowledge, (2) potential, (3) adaptation, and (4) learning. These insights provide critical information to ensure that the United States expansion into offshore energy generation is characterized by elements of justice, equity, and inclusive regional economic development.

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 187, November 2023, 113766, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2023.113766

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