20% of US Electricity From Wind Power by 2030 Would Get Big Boost From Offshore Projects

offshore wind turbine photo

photo: Phil Hollman/Creative Commons

With Google helping back a 350-mile long power transmission line off the East Coast offshore wind power transmission constraints will hopefully be eased. Which is good news as a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says the United States could really get a boost from more offshore wind power in generating 20% of its electricity by 2030 from the wind. Here's how:According to NREL's "Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the United States",

In assessing the potential for supplying 20% of US electricity from wind energy by 2030, NREL's least-cost optimization model found that 54 gigawatts (GW) of added wind capacity could come from offshore wind. Achieving 20% wind would provide significant benefits to the nation, such as increased energy security, reduced air and water pollution, and the stimulation of the domestic economy.

Further benefits of 54 GW of offshore wind power touted in the report include:

  • An estimated $200 billion in new economic activity, with 43,000 permanent jobs created.
  • Since there are suitable offshore wind resources near large urban centers, there are "favorable market opportunities for offshore wind to compete effectively in coastal regions."

US offshore wind power potential map

image: NREL
2 Gigawatts Currently Being Planned
The report highlights that though the US lags behind Europe in developing offshore wind power, there are currently 20 projects in the planning and permitting stages, which will bring more than 2 GW of power online. Most of these are in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, with some projects being considered in the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico and all the Pacific Coast. The last category is lesser though, as, "The deep waters off the West Coast...pose a technology challenge for the near term."

wind power technology status chart

image: NREL
Offshore Wind Could Generate More Power Than All US' Current Capacity
As for the total potential resource to be developed, NREL calculates (using some pretty dense deployment of turbines up to 50 nautical miles from the the coast, it must be said) that the US has 4,000 GW available. That's roughly four times the nation's current electricity generating capacity.

More realistically though, accounting for siting restrictions due to environmental and public concerns which could take 60% or more of that potential capacity away, the US could develop about 1,600 GW of offshore wind power--still more than enough to go all renewable.

Like this? Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
More on Wind Power:
Never Mind the Atlantic Oil... Offshore Wind Power Can Electrify Half of East Coast
New Jersey's Offshore Wind Power Plans Will Have Little Negative Environmental Impact: Study
First Freshwater Offshore Wind Farm in US Planned for Lake Erie
Court Ruling Means Cape Wind Has All Permits Allowing Construction to Begin

Related Content on Treehugger.com