Spinning the Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind Industry into Economic Opportunity

Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina are on the cusp of entry into the U.S. offshore wind market. In Virginia, the first offshore wind turbines in federal waters symbolize the potential for a thriving clean-energy industry that could bring the region meaningful local economic benefits. With one of the deepest seaports on the East Coast, a large, skilled workforce, and proximity to major urban electricity demand centers, the Norfolk-Hampton Roads region is poised for a local offshore wind industry to take off. Nearby states North Carolina and Maryland similarly stand to reap significant economic benefits from a local offshore wind industry, and the three states have commitments to procure at least 6.8 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind project capacity between them. However, the U.S. offshore wind industry remains nascent, and particularly so in the mid-Atlantic, with a long road remaining to building up the supply chain, workforce, and infrastructure necessary to sustain it. Locally, considerable work remains to ensure communities can experience the benefits, and state and federal policy and investment is needed to support the region’s offshore wind ambitions. This brief summarizes key takeaways from a roundtable C2ES held in person in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in October 2022. It offers recommendations for policymakers to capitalize on the economic opportunity that decarbonization creates, in particular the growth of the mid-Atlantic offshore wind industry.