U.S. Off-Shore Wind: A Tremendous Resource of Zero-Carbon Generation
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a report this month describing its off-shore wind development strategy. The potential that this resource has to contribute to reliable electric generation and a green energy future is nothing short of astounding:
· 10,800 GW of gross resource potential, of which,
· Over 2,000 GW are feasible given existing technology, as well as land-use and environmental constraints
To put that in context: 2,000 GW of off-shore wind turbines would produce nearly double the amount of electricity used in the United States last year. DOE’s 2015 Wind Vision report called for the development of just 86 GW of off-shore wind by 2050, enough to serve 7 percent of U.S. electric sales.
Regionally, the greatest share of off-shore wind technical potential lies off the coast of the Northeast states. In the Northeast and throughout the United States, actual development of off-shore wind continues to move at a glacial pace. DOE projections show the cost of developing off-shore wind dropping steeply over the next decade, but even at a lower cost these facilities have a lot of challenges to face in siting and permitting. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island’s joint Clean Energy RFP drew bids from off-shore wind developers and may prove helpful in finding a path forward.