U.S. creeps towards offshore wind, could start soaring


The United States still has no offshore wind, mostly due to pointlessly complicated permitting regulations coupled with NIMBYs who think renewable energy is just a wonderful idea so long as they don’t have to look at it. However, the very first U.S. offshore wind, the Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island, is finally being built. Output will be a wee little 30 MW, enough for about 30,000 homes. By the end of this decade there might be 3.3 GW of offshore wind operational, says the government. That would be a huge improvement, even as some of the largest coal and natural gas plants produce that much power on their own. However, big potential is certainly there, especially off New Jersey and North Carolina.

According to the report [PDF], as of June 20, 2015, there were 21 US offshore wind projects in the project pipeline, representing 15,650 MW of offshore wind. Breaking that down, 13 projects totaling 5,939 MW have achieved site control or a more advanced phase of development, and approximately 3,305 MW are aiming for commercial operation by 2020.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued 5,768 MW of offshore wind leases, with a total value of $14.5 million, as well as identifying wind energy areas in New Jersey and North Carolina totaling nearly 9,000 MW of additional potential capacity that has yet to be auctioned.

The UK has by far the most offshore wind of any nation, especially in Scotland. The West Coast waters get too deep too fast for turbines to be practical. The  East Coast, with its shallow waters, is ideal for offshore turbines. Let’s hope it happens.

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