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Renewable Vibes > News > Renewable Energy > An Obsolete Law from the 1920s Hinders the US’ Ambitious Wind Energy Plans

An Obsolete Law from the 1920s Hinders the US’ Ambitious Wind Energy Plans

The Jones Act, a protectionist law that has been in effect since 1789, is often overlooked due to its limited benefits and the shared cost burden among many payers, according to Colin Grabow, a research fellow at the libertarian think tank, Cato Institute. The law was established to support the US marine industry by ensuring a sufficient supply of ships and mariners in case of war. The rationale behind the act was that protection from foreign competition would promote this objective.

Grabow points out that most Americans are unaware of the Jones Act’s existence and that it has little impact on their lives. However, he argues that all Americans suffer from the law’s negative consequences, such as hindering the United States’ progress in achieving its wind power targets. Those who are most vocal in supporting the Jones Act are typically individuals involved in building, operating, or serving on compliant ships.

Abraham Silverman, an expert on renewable energy at Columbia University, explains that the slow rollout of offshore wind power in the US is not solely due to the century-old shipping law. Various factors, including rising interest rates, inflation, and other macroeconomic conditions, contributed to the failure of New Jersey’s Ocean Wind installations.

Despite these setbacks, the potential for offshore wind power generation in the US is enormous. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that fixed-bottom offshore wind farms could theoretically generate around 1,500 gigawatts of power, surpassing the country’s current generation capacity.

Matthew Shields, an engineer at NREL specializing in wind energy economics and technology, emphasizes the importance of making the expansion into offshore wind more efficient. He believes that building a significant offshore wind capacity by 2030, even if it doesn’t have a substantial impact on climate change, can pave the way for the development of 100 or 200 gigawatts by 2050. Shields emphasizes the need to address the existing issues and ensure sustainable development moving forward.

However, the Jones Act continues to pose challenges for the offshore wind industry, resulting in inefficiencies, financial losses, and delays. These obstacles not only affect the industry’s profitability but also hinder progress towards achieving carbon neutrality.

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