Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management must systematically assess, consider, and document the significant environmental consequences of proposed actions such as offshore lease sales. Due to the rapidly growing interest in offshore wind farms, BOEM needed to quickly develop an efficient, consistent approach to estimating air pollutant emissions associated with proposed offshore wind projects and quantifying anticipated emission reductions relative to landside power plants. The Bureau asked ERG to recommend how this need could be met.
ERG developed a white paper proposing development of an Offshore Wind Energy Facilities Emission Estimating Tool (Air Emission Tool) to quantify fuel usage and emissions from the construction, operation, maintenance, and removal of offshore wind farms and then developed the tool after receiving BOEM’s approval. The final Air Emission Tool not only quantified emissions associated with offshore wind farms, but also accounted for emission reductions associated with providing clean wind power to the local grid. The tool was so successful that BOEM subsequently commissioned a second version that would run on Microsoft’s Access Runtime platform, allowing users to operate the tool on any version of Access. Version 2 also included recent updates of EPA’s vessel emission factors from their Port Inventory Guidance; incorporation of BOEM’s geospatial data to calculate travel distances; and the latest version of Avoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT) data to quantify net emission reduction for landside power plants.