Atlantic wind farms alone could meet 25% of US electricity needs
According to a new report released by the Interior Department, shallow-water offshore wind farms could supply as much as 20% of the electricity in most coastal states. The report, released last week by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said that the greatest offshore wind energy potential in the U.S. lies off the Atlantic Coast which holds 1,000 gigawatts of electricity, or one quarter of national demand.
“More than three-fourths of the nation’s electricity demand comes from coastal states and the wind potential off the coasts of the lower 48 states actually exceeds our entire U.S. electricity demand,” Salazar told a summit meeting of 25X’25 America’s Energy Future, a group working to lower America’s carbon emissions.
From Maine to Florida, state and local officials have been drafting plans and regulatory structures for offshore wind farm siting and permitting.
States have regulatory jurisdiction within three miles of their coast, beyond that boundary, the federal government has jurisdiction. And the federal waters between North Carolina and Delaware hold 71 percent of the nation’s shallow-water wind resources, the Interior report says.
In North Carolina, where the shallow waters and high winds in and around the Outer Banks are legendary, state legislators and some coastal counties are already preparing standards for where to allow wind farms. The state’s sounds, inside the Outer Banks, could be likely targets.
“We don’t have a proposal yet, but in all the presentations I’ve seen, the (potential) facilities seem to be in shallow water,” Mike Lopazanski of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management told the Charlotte Observer.
The report also notes large potential in the Pacific—approximately 900 gigawatts along the coast of California, Oregon and Washington—but that deeper waters off the Pacific coast make developing that wind energy resource far more difficult with current available technologies.
There are more than 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects proposed in the United States, yet the country is still waiting for its first offshore turbine. Though it has yet to receive final approval from all relevant regulatory bodies, the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts is the closest to fruition.