U.S. could develop 900,000 MW of offshore wind power

The U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative (USOWC) released its study "U.S . Offshore Wind Energy: A Path Forward" in late October.

Current efforts to develop offshore wind power in the United States include the planned 468 MW Cape Wind project near Cape Cod, a 200 MW offshore wind project in Delaware through Delmarva Power & Light and a project from Duke Energy and the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill for three planned demonstration turbines off the coast of North Carolina.

In 2008, the Land Policy Institute (LPI) at Michigan State University issued an offshore wind power report finding the potential for nearly 322 GW of generation capacity off the state’s coast. The Ohio-based Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force has also issued a feasibility study for a 20 MW pilot offshore wind power project in Lake Erie near Cleveland that could cost up to $92 million. Case Western Reserve University helped to fund the report.

The USOWC’s report, a study entitled “The U.S. Offshore Wind Energy: A Path Forward”, asserts the feasibility of this electric production should government agencies, universities and businesses coordinate activities to nurture and develop offshore wind power in the United States, as well as with European counterparts. Among its many recommendations, the report also lays out specific areas needing to make offshore wind power a reality.

900,000 megawatts of electricity is an amount nearly equivalent to the nation’s current total installed capacity. These offshore wind resources are especially attractive because they are located in relative proximity to the country’s largest centers of electricity use, including urban cities such as Washington, DC.

Offshore wind energy has great potential to address the United States’ urgent energy and environmental challenges. While this abundant domestic renewable energy source is currently untapped, there is growing political and market momentum to develop the vast offshore wind energy resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf and the Great Lakes.

This document provides an overview of the following areas critical to sustainable offshore wind energy development:

* Regulation and government policies
* Technology development
* Economic and financial viability
* Environmental/marine use compatibility
* Leadership and coordination.