The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently published a new report that analyzes the current state of the offshore wind energy industry. It provides a broad understanding of the offshore wind resource, and details the associated technology challenges, economics, permitting procedures, and potential risks and benefits of developing this clean, domestic, renewable resource.

The United States possesses large and accessible offshore wind energy resources. The availability of these strong offshore winds close to major U.S. coastal cities significantly reduces power transmission issues. The report estimates that U.S. offshore winds have a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation's present electric capacity. According to the report, developing the offshore wind resource along U.S. coastlines and in the Great Lakes would help the nation: (1) Achieve 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030 - Offshore wind could supply 54 gigawatts of wind capacity to the nation's electrical grid, increasing energy security, reducing air and water pollution, and stimulating the domestic economy. (2) Provide clean power to its coastal demand centers - Wind power emits no carbon dioxide (CO2) and there are plentiful winds off the coasts of 26 states. (3) Revitalize its manufacturing sector - Building 54 GW of offshore wind energy facilities would generate an estimated $200 billion in new economic activity, and create more than 43,000 permanent, well-paid technical jobs in manufacturing, construction, engineering, operations and maintenance.

NREL's report concludes that the development of the nation's offshore wind resources can provide many potential benefits, and with effective research, policies, and commitment, offshore wind energy can play a vital role in future U.S. energy markets...(read more...)