BOSTON — Large-scale offshore wind projects have been mostly on hold the past year but are expected to be revived under President Joe Biden, who vows to expand the nation’s renewable energy sources.
Biden has unveiled a $2 trillion package of clean energy measures that call for building thousands of offshore wind turbines as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions that scientists say are contributing to a warming planet. Biden says the plan will boost the nation’s clean energy industry and create jobs.
“We’re going to take money and invest it in clean energy jobs in America,” he said in remarks from the White House on Wednesday. “Millions of jobs in wind, solar and carbon capture.”
A $900 billion COVID-19 relief package approved by Congress in December includes provisions that delay a phase-out of tax credits for wind projects and a new 30% tax credit for offshore wind projects. The incentives aim to attract investment in clean energy.
Environmental groups say the developments bode well for the wind power industry in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
“Biden’s team really understands the game-changing potential of offshore wind,” said Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. “It really is the backbone of our clean energy transition.”
On Beacon Hill, state leaders are expanding capacity for offshore wind generation as they tighten environmental laws aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
A climate change bill approved Thursday by the House and Senate, which commits the state to a “net-zero” limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, would require utilities to purchase 5,600 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035.
The additional procurement would add to a law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2016 requiring the state to have at least 3,200 megawatts of electricity provided by offshore wind by 2035 as part of a shift to renewable energy.
The Baker administration’s roadmap to reaching “net zero” emissions by 2050 envisions the state receiving roughly half of its electricity from wind power in the next 30 years.
Vineyard Wind, a $2.8 billion, 84-turbine project planned 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, was delayed last year by federal regulators. Former President Donald Trump, a vocal critic of wind power, had doubts about its viability.
The project would generate enough energy to power more than 400,000 homes, or about 20% of electricity consumed in the state, according to its designers.
Vineyard Wind is one of several large-scale offshore wind projects being considered along the Atlantic coast, where strong winds and a shallow continental shelf provide the necessary conditions for towering turbines. Its developer also has submitted bids for a second, 800-megawatt project off Massachusetts.
The Block Island Wind Farm, which consists of five turbines, was the nation’s first when it launched in 2016. Orsted Offshore North America, which operates the wind farm, has other projects in development with Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland and New York.
Pamela Venzke, chief corporate affairs officer for Orsted Offshore North America, said wind power provides an opportunity to “transform” the country’s energy economy.
“President Biden has taken unmatched steps to place the green economy at the center of his build back better efforts, and he knows that America’s path to a low-carbon future begins by putting welders, electricians and other skilled labor groups to work building and installing the infrastructure that will help clean and transform the nation’s power sector,” she said in a statement.
Commercial fishermen have expressed concerns about offshore windmills, which would tower nearly 600 feet above the water line.
Turnbull-Henry said she believes the Biden administration will seek to develop wind power in a responsible way that does not disenfranchise others who use coastal waters.
“We value so much of what the ocean provides in the way of recreation, fishing and habitat,” she said. “And I think offshore wind can responsibly co-exist.”
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites.