Estimating Emissions from Developing and Operating Offshore Wind Farms

Project Brief

The Challenge

Offshore wind energy is often seen as carbon- and pollution-free, since it is generated without emissions. Pollutants are emitted, though, in the development and operation of offshore wind projects. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management needed to assess these emissions’ potential effects along with the potential benefits of offshore wind. BOEM asked for a user-friendly software tool to help developers of offshore wind farms quantify emissions and offsets associated with the preconstruction, construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of their proposed projects.

ERG's Solution

ERG began by determining how much fuel marine vessels, helicopters, and offshore support vessels’ auxiliary engines use during offshore wind project site characterization, construction, operation, and decommissioning. ERG then used approved emission factors to calculate emissions for that fuel use. On the offset side, ERG developed an approach to estimate the conventional power generation emissions avoided through a wind power project.

ERG then developed the Offshore Wind Energy Facilities Emission Estimating Tool in Microsoft Access. The tool guides the user through data entry, then summarizes the emissions calculated for the proposed project. Users can upload inputs and export detailed outputs, including emissions by project phase, location, and equipment type.

The tool—along with the user guide, technical summary, technical documentation, and instructional video ERG developed—is available under “Physical Environment” on the BOEM Completed Studies webpage.


U.S. Department of the Interior