The wind energy resources off the coasts of the United States are vast and plentiful. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that the wind resources along American ocean and Great Lakes coasts are capable of providing 900,000
megawatts (MW) of electricity—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
Offshore wind energy has great potential to address the United States’ urgent energy and environmental needs; however, this game-changing domestic renewable energy source remains untapped.
Currently, the European Union (EU) leads the world in offshore wind development. Pilot offshore wind projects were installed in Europe as early as 1990. A total of 1,247 offshore turbines are now installed and grid connected
in European waters, bringing total installed capacity to 3,294MW, spread
across 49 wind farms in nine European countries.
China and Japan are also developing the technologies and know-how necessary to realize the potential of offshore wind energy resources.
The nascent U.S. offshore wind industry has arrived at a crossroads. President Barack Obama pledged to reorient the nation’s energy agenda to reflect his commitment to a clean energy future. In announcing the federal administration’s strategy for developing energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar spoke of building, “a framework for offshore renewable energy development, so that we incorporate the great potential for wind, wave, and ocean current energy into our offshore energy strategy.”