US to invest heavily to boost offshore wind farms
Wind turbines of the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island in October 2016 (AFP)

The US government on Monday unveiled plans to bolster offshore wind farms with the goal of supplying energy to more than 10 million homes by 2030, as part of President Joe Biden's efforts to fight climate change.

The objective of the initiative -- which will be carried out by the departments of commerce, the interior, transport and energy -- is to produce 30 gigawatts of wind power in the country by that date, the White House in a press conference.

Achieving the goal will require more than $12 billion in investment per year along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs, the administration said.

"In the months ahead and over time, the United States, I'm convinced, will be the leader in advancing access to vaccines around the world," he said.

The United States has already entered an agreement to produce vaccines in India with support from allies Japan and Australia, eyeing innoculation drives in areas of Southeast Asia and the Pacific where China has sought to expand its clout.

President Joe Biden is also sending millions of doses of AstraZeneca -- which has not been approved for use in the United States -- to neighboring Canada and Mexico and has contributed or committed $4 billion to the UN-backed Covax program to vaccinate the developing world.

The move should cut 78 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the White House said.

The government plans to designate an offshore wind development zone off the coasts of the New York and New Jersey. Lots will be offered for operation by the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022.

Only one offshore wind farm is currently fully operational in the United States: the Block Island Wind Farm, completed at the end of 2016 off the state of Rhode Island and capable of producing 30 megawatts.

The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project, with a capacity of 12 megawatts, saw its first phase completed in 2020. The final site is to be completed in 2026 and could supply energy to 600,000 households.

Other projects off Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina are under development.

The Biden administration plans to grant $230 million to ports to modernize and support offshore wind projects more easily. It will also grant loans up to $3 billion to companies in the sector.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will also share information with a specialized company, Orsted Wind Power North America, to plug any gaps in charting the oceans.

The agency will also grant $1 million for research into the coexistence between offshore wind projects and coastal communities, in particular fishermen.

The support for wind power is in stark contrast to former president Donald Trump, who repeatedly ridiculed the renewable energy source during his term, claiming it was expensive and inefficient.

Since taking office, Biden has also initiated several environmental protection measures that break with his right-wing predecessor.

© 2021 AFP