A new report released in Dec. 2022 by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) calculates the contributions of often-overlooked portions of the ocean economy, concluding that regional marine research and education, state expenditures related to the ocean, and coastal electricity production in the mid-Atlantic area support 38,000 jobs and $25.5 billion in annual economic activity. For the first time, this study also attempts to place an economic value on the region’s “blue carbon” – the ability of marine plants to store carbon that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere and exacerbate climate change.
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean is a partnership of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia to enhance the vitality of the region’s ocean ecosystem and economy. MARCO works with federal partners to advance responsible offshore wind development through the Mid-Atlantic Council on the Ocean (MACO) Offshore Renewable Energy Work Group.
The report, “New Perspectives on the Ocean Economy of the Mid-Atlantic States,” is available for download here.
It provides regional and state-by-state summaries of the economic impacts of each of these sectors along with six others (marine construction, living resources, offshore mineral extraction, ship and boat building, tourism and recreation, and marine transportation) that have long been tracked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) in its Economics National Ocean Watch (ENOW) data.
“This report takes us a step forward in understanding the full scope of the blue economy in the Mid-Atlantic region,” said MARCO Chair Kimberly Cole of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “It explores the impact of ocean-reliant economic activity in sectors that haven’t been covered by other analyses, but play an essential role in supporting jobs, wages and businesses.”
This report adds three new sectors to the measure of the ocean related economies of the Mid-Atlantic, improves the accuracy of measurement of ocean-related tourism & recreation, and takes a first step towards creating an integrated economic-ecosystem account of ocean values.
Marine Research & Education is a sector that is included in most national ocean accounts and is included in the U.S. Marine Economy Satellite Account beginning in 2020. The sector is measured primarily by the budget outlays of institutions involved in marine research and education; these are primarily academic institutions in higher education that combine research and education so that it is not practical to separate the two functions. Some marine research is conducted by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
State Government. The largest difference between the Marine Economy Satellite Account and the ENOW accounts is the inclusion of government, particularly the Federal government in the former. State and local governments were also included, but the focus is on state governments because of the difficulties in gathering data from the more than 1,000 coastal counties and more than 10,000 other units of local government in coastal areas. State government ocean-related expenditures were defined as being of three types: resource management (including regulation, conservation, and fisheries management), parks and recreation provided by state government, and law enforcement specifically related to marine/coastal resources. Ports owned or operated by state governments are accounted for in the marine transportation sector of the standard ENOW data.
Electricity Generation. Electric power generation has not been considered a traditional “coastal” industry, but it is included in the marine economy satellite account for two reasons. First, electric power generation has frequently used coastal locations because they offer access to water for steam generation and discharge and also for delivery of fuels such as oil and coal. Second, one of the largest anticipated changes in the ocean economy is the addition of renewable electricity generation, primarily in the form of offshore wind but also including tidal and thermal generation. To set a baseline against which the coastal electric industry will involve, estimates of the economic activity associated with the current industry are included.
About Mid-Atlantic States Offshore Wind and Renewable Energy
With a gently sloping continental shelf and strong offshore winds, the Mid-Atlantic is well-suited to offshore wind development, which could be a solution for states to meet renewable portfolio standards and goals. As offshore wind development ramps up, states and stakeholders are tasked with considering how this exciting new industry will affect the busy and ecologically productive waters of the Mid-Atlantic. Critical undersea infrastructure such as submarine cables and stationary scientific equipment must be factored in.
MARCO’s Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal houses and displays thousands of data layers to help coastal managers, decision makers, and members of the public understand potential interactions between offshore wind development, marine life and various ocean uses and resources.
Among the wind and offshore wind resources with which MARCO works are:
- NYS Ocean and Great Lakes Program
- NYS Offshore wind program
- NJDEP offshore wind page
- NJ clean energy program
- DE Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy
- Maryland Energy Administration
- Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority
- Virginia Coastal Zone Management
- Dominion Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind
Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) Report Findings
The statistics provided in the report are based on economic data from the 2018 calendar year. The following are some of the report’s findings.
State Government: MARCO states budgeted $654.6 million and employed 6,300 workers for needs such as resource management, parks and recreation, and law enforcement related to the ocean. The regional average budgeted by state governments per mile of shoreline was $62,000. New Jersey topped the list at $144,000 per mile.
Marine Research and Education: Public and private higher education institutions with marine research and education programs accounted for $317 million in spending and 7,200 jobs. Virginia had the largest marine research expenditures at $134 million.
Tourism and Recreation: To present the most accurate picture of peak summer tourism in the Mid-Atlantic, the analysis took steps to discount seasonal economic activity that was not related to coastal recreation – for example, hotel and restaurant spending tied to business travel or family visits. It found that peak recreational tourism accounted for $10 billion in spending and supported 696,000 jobs. New Jersey and Delaware had the largest peak summer economies, with employment in ocean tourism and recreation 54% and 39% higher respectively.
Blue Carbon: The report assigns a range of potential values for the economic damage that would be suffered from climate change if each state’s aquatic vegetation were to be eliminated. The region’s aquatic vegetation was estimated to hold $10.1 billion to $29.5 billion in total value, depending on the choice of carbon price (for example, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative market price). Virginia (64 metric tons), Maryland (63.5 metric tons) and New Jersey (60 metric tons) stored the bulk of the region’s estimated blue carbon.
Electric Power Generation: Although power generation hasn’t traditionally been considered a coastal industry, the report notes that many of the region’s plants were built in nearshore locations because they offer access to water for steam generation and discharge and for delivery of fuels such as coal and oil. The analysis focused on plants within 3 miles of the coast and found they accounted for $22.4 billion in output and 24,500 jobs – second only to tourism and recreation among ocean economy sectors, and certain to grow with the advent of offshore wind farms. Any costs associated with negative health and environmental impacts of fossil fuels were not included in this analysis. New York had the largest coastal electric power industry with 115 plants.
Author Dr. Charles Colgan, research director for the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey’s Center for the Blue Economy, said the report marks a significant change from the economic activity counted as “ocean-related” in the widely consulted ENOW. He said it also provides a bridge between ENOW and the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Marine Economy Satellite Account (MESA), which expanded the definition of activities related to the ocean in a similar way, but only provided that data at a national scale.
“This is the first time the value of ecosystems has been incorporated in the tracking of ocean values in the U.S.,” Colgan said. “The methods developed for the Mid-Atlantic states will soon be applied throughout the U.S., greatly expanding our understanding of how oceans and coasts contribute to state economies.”
The report recommends that the data be updated on a regular basis so that important changes in the economic activity associated with the ocean can be detected and investigated. It notes that this can be done easily and at a modest cost by state coastal programs using publicly available information.
MARCO and Colgan previously collaborated on the 2018 report Climate Change Vulnerabilities in the Coastal Mid-Atlantic Region. That document quantified the potential impacts of threats like sea level rise, rising ocean temperatures and changes in the ocean’s chemistry to communities and businesses in 63 counties and independent cities along the coast from New York to Virginia.
NOAA Marine Data — What’s Ahead?
The federal government has begun the process of expanding the measurement of the ocean-related economy, at least at the national level. The Marine Economy Satellite Account was published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in June 2021. The MESA data expands the definition of economic activities related to the oceans and coasts and improves the accuracy of the measurement. But the MESA data is constructed from highly detailed data that is only available at the national level. While plans exist to expand the MESA to include state and county level data, this lies sometime in the future.
The contributions of oceans and coasts to national, state, and local economies in the U.S. has been tracked for nearly two decades through a data series originally developed by the National Ocean Economics Program (NOEP), which is now maintained by the Office for Coastal Management of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This data is made available both through the Economics National Ocean Watch section of the NOAA digital coast website and also through the data portal of the National Ocean Economics Program at the Center for the Blue Economy. Data is available for employment, wages, value added (contributions to gross domestic product) and the number of establishments and can be accessed for county, state, and national levels.
Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind Projects in Progress
Click here to see each project on an intereactive map.
New York State plans to generate electricity from offshore wind lease areas located in the New York Bight and southern New England waters:
- The South Fork Wind project is a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource Energy located in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 35 miles east of Montauk Point. This will be New York’s first commercial offshore wind project and will generate approximately 130 MW. The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is contracted with the South Fork Wind project to meet growing energy demand on Long Island’s South Fork.
- The Sunrise Wind project is proposed as a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource Energy. It would be located roughly 30 miles from Montauk Point. The Sunrise Wind cable would inject approximately 880 MW delivered to the Holbrook Substation located in central Long Island.
- The Empire Wind projects proposed by Equinor Wind US would construct two offshore wind facilities in a roughly 80,000-acre triangular area located approximately 14 miles south of Jones Beach, New York. The Empire Wind 1 project located in the northwest half of the lease area will produce over 800 MW of energy and proposes a cable route to New York City’s Gowanus Substation. The Empire Wind 2 project occupying the southwestern half of the lease area will produce approximately 1,260 MW and deliver energy to the Oceanside Substation in western Long Island.
- The Beacon Wind project proposed by Equinor Wind US will be located over 60 miles east of Montauk Point in Lease Area OCS-A 0520. This project proposes to generate 1,230 MW and interconnect to New York City’s Astoria Substation.
BOEM has completed its analysis of additional lease areas within the New York Bight, as depicted here: BOEM Wind Planning Areas.
There are currently two conjoined lease areas roughly 10 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey:
- To the north is the 183,000-acre Atlantic Shores project area, leased jointly by EDF Renewables and Shell. It is expected to generate roughly 1,500 MW of electricity.
- To its south is a 160,000-acre area leased by Ørsted that includes the Ocean Wind I and II project areas, shown in brown and green. The areas are collectively expected to generate over 2,200 MW of power for New Jersey.
For the most recent information related to offshore wind in New Jersey, please see https://www.nj.gov/dep/offshorewind/.
Delaware & Maryland
There are currently three lease areas located off the coasts of Delaware and Maryland.
To the north is the 70,000-acre GSOE I area. Directly adjoining it to the south is the 26,000-acre Skipjack Offshore Energy area. Skipjack was awarded offshore renewable energy credits (ORECs) from Maryland Public Service Commission in 2017 for a 120 MW capacity wind farm (Skipjack Wind 1) and in December 2021, Maryland Public Service Commission awarded a 20-year OREC for Skipjack Wind 2, with a capacity of 846 MW. Ørsted is the lease holder for both projects. Ørsted plans to build Skipjack Wind 1 and Skipjack Wind 2 as one project and expects them to be commissioned in 2026.
Approximately seven miles south, and 10 miles off the coasts of Delaware and Maryland, is an 80,000-acre area leased by U.S. Wind.
The first offshore wind turbines in U.S. federal waters are now producing power off the coast of Virginia. Installation was completed on two turbines in the summer of 2020 and they became fully operational by October.
The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot Project is designed to demonstrate a grid-connected, 12-megawatt offshore wind test facility on the Outer Continental Shelf about 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The data obtained and lessons learned from this project will be made publicly available and inform the future production of renewable energy within the adjacent commercial lease area, where construction is expected to begin in 2024. The research site is leased by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Energy. Dominion Energy was designated as the lease operator and contracted with Ørsted to construct the turbines and L.E. Myers Company to perform onshore electrical design and construction.
Approximately 115,000 acres of offshore has been leased for offshore wind development, including one aliquot that was designated for the development of the test turbines. A submarine power cable connecting to this area is seen in blue. The full Virginia lease area, controlled by Dominion Energy and Ørsted, is anticipated to produce 2,500 MW of electricity.
Guice Offshore Vessels — A Trusted Fleet With Experience in Offshore Wind, Government Projects, Scientific Research
Guice Offshore (GO) regularly provides vessel and technical services to a broad spectrum of critical industries like aerospace, documentary and film; oil and gas; government and military; environmental and disaster response and recovery; inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR); science and research; salvage; geotechnical and surveys; and offshore wind and renewable energy. Our culture is customer driven with a strong “Can Do Safely” mentality; we address our clients’ needs with a technical approach, enhanced vessel capabilities and experienced crews. Our goal is to consistently deliver safe, reliable and cost-effective service.
Many public and private research institutions, universities, and endowments utilize offshore service vessels. GO vessels have assisted in these endeavors along all U.S. coasts and the Caribbean. Our vessels offer a stable platform from which to conduct experiments and utilize specialized equipment, and our large accommodations can house many scientists and vessel crew simultaneously, and even be converted into floating laboratories. Multi-Purpose Vessels like the GO Pursuit, operating in partnership with Ryan Marine, are especially well-suited for this industry, which often requires an A-frame and winch to deploy acoustic gear into the water column or down to the seafloor.
GO vessels are also regularly employed in a variety of government and military support roles including research and development (R&D), offshore training and drills, logistics and special projects. Our Multi-Purpose Vessel GO America, based in Port Everglades, Florida, operates in conjunction with our partners Global SubDive to support a large array of government projects, often utilizing GSD submarines and ROVs. Similarly, partner Ryan Marine is an expert in the field of unmanned vehicle operation which allows us to provide turnkey AUV and UUV services to Government agencies anywhere in the U.S. and Caribbean.
Guice Offshore Has the Jones Act-Compliant Supply, Support and Platform Vessels To Help Meet America’s Offshore Wind Goals
In response to the March 2022 National Renewable Energy Laboratory report outlining in part the need for six types of offshore vessels in order to fulfill offshore wind power supply chain needs to reach the United States’ national offshore wind goal of 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, Guice Offshore (“GO”) Vice President David Scheyd said:
“Our growing fleet of Jones Act-compliant, dynamically positioned offshore supply vessels, mini supply vessels and platform vessels is well positioned to help meet our nation’s wind energy infrastructure installation and service goal deadlines, whether it’s crew transfer, service, cable laying, subsea work like scour protection or equipment transportation.”
To get a link to the report, entitled “The Demand for a Domestic Offshore Wind Energy Supply Chain,” and its concurrent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), U.S. Department of Energy report, “America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition,” click here: https://lnkd.in/gXMGRmqj