The US will stage its first Gulf of Mexico offshore wind auction in August, with seabed for a potential 3.7GW set to go on the block.

The Department of the Interior said the US Gulf’s debut projects could power 1.3 million homes and will help the nation towards its goal of 30GW in the water by 2030.

The Final Sale Notice for the auction included a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres and the other 96,786 acres.

“The Gulf of Mexico is poised to play a key role in our nation’s transition to a clean energy future,” said Elizabeth Klein, director of US regulator the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which will run the process on 29 August this year.

“Today’s announcement follows years of engagement with government agencies, states, ocean users, and stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico region. We look forward to continued collaboration in the years to come.”

The region holds some 500GW of commercial offshore wind potential, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, but development is challenged by lower wind speeds of around 7.4 metres per second (m/s) and less stable seabed conditions.

Hurricanes will also require more robust industrial infrastructure, adding to development and operation costs.

Proximity to the offshore petroleum sector is a draw, though. The US Gulf is a major centre for the oil & gas sector, with projects built in the region tipped to be among the first to find synergies in areas such as hydrogen production and offshore fossil production decarbonisation.

The region's extensive supply chain and workforce are already being retooled to meet the sector's needs, and Gulf-based businesses are at work in the US Northeast on the US' first offshore installations of the Vineyard and South Fork projects.

“The region's experienced professionals to the offshore wind market will drive new innovations and opportunities for the industry,” said John Begala, vice president for federal and state policy at trade group Business Network for Offshore Wind.

Similar to the California round, the auction would allow credits up to 30% the cash value of the bid for workforce development, supply chain investment, and fisheries compensation funds.

Louisiana has set a goal of 5GW of offshore wind capacity by 2035 towards economy wide net zero emissions by 2045, with the state’s industrial sector in the crosshairs for reductions.

“Louisiana companies have demonstrated their ability to successfully channel decades of energy expertise into new clean-energy verticals,” Michael Hecht, CEO of economic development agency Greater New Orleans (GNO).

The lease auction “is a critical step in solidifying Louisiana as the offshore wind nexus for the nation and globe.”

GNO last year won a $50m federal and $25m Louisiana state grant to develop offshore wind-powered green hydrogen

Texas, the nation's second-largest producer of renewable energy and its biggest wind power generator, has been largely mute on the sector, though.

BOEM's list of 15 qualified bidders includes winners from last year’s rounds, such as US renewables firm Invenergy and European energy giants RWE, Shell, and TotalEnergies.

Newcomers have also joined the ranks such Korean technology firm Hanwha and several firms that appear to have been created specifically for Gulf offshore wind development.

As was seen in all three auctions last year, most qualified firms probably won't participate, and industry sources have complained to Recharge that BOEM's process favours deep-pocketed foreign oil companies over local players with fewer financial resources but greater commitment to community benefits.

Irish renewables firm Mainstream Renewable Power is listed among the qualified bidders but has already exited the US market after bowing out of the California round last December that was dominated by oil & gas majors and global developers.

BOEM anticipates as many as 18 commercial and research wind energy leases in the GoM.

. Gulf of Mexico leases. Photo: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management