The US total potential offshore wind energy resource could top 4000 GW, according to a new analysis by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The report, Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the US: Assessment of Opportunities and Barriers, says that even harnessing just a fraction of the country offshore wind potential could cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security, provide cost-competitive electricity to coastal regions and create thousands of jobs.
Exploiting the country’s offshore wind potential could help it reach 20% of electricity generation – or around 54 GW – and revitalise its manufacturing sector to the tune of $200 billion.
The report says that the 26 states along the US coast – including the Great Lakes, where there are large urban areas, could provide very favourable conditions for offshore wind generation.
“The report will help guide our efforts in the coming years to support the offshore wind industry, create new clean energy jobs, and develop environmentally responsible energy resources,” says Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
The US, while one of the world’s leaders in land-based wind generation, has no offshore wind capacity at all, although the country’s first facility, the controversial Cape Wind project, has been given the go ahead.
The $1 billion, 468 MW Cape Wind project has now moved to the next stage, with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signing a 28-year lease authorising developers to construct 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound, off the Massachusetts coast.
The lease marks the end of a nine-year regulatory process for the project, which Salazar is keen to emphasise will not happen again in the future.
“This is the beginning of a new era for our nation in offshore energy production,” he said in a speech to American Wind Energy Association this week.
For further information:
Wind drops in US (28-Jul)
New US wind installations slow down in 2010 (4-May)
First US offshore wind farm gets the go ahead (29-Apr)
US wind industry installed over 10,000 MW in 2009 (9-Apr)
US wind potential higher than previously thought (25-Feb)
08 October 2010