Offshore wind power along U.S. coastlines has a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation’s present electric capacity, a new report by a national laboratory has found.
Saying that harnessing “this large and inexhaustible resource” can help mitigate climate change, increase energy security, and stimulate the U.S. economy, the report said that 54 GW of offshore wind power could be built by 2030.
Conducted by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the study — called “Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power In The United States” — found that offshore wind could help the nation meet 20% of its electricity demand in two decades.
Offshore wind energy has an “important” role in helping the EU to meet its 2020 renewable energy target, Hans Van Steen, Head of Unit at the European Commission’s department for energy said on Tuesday.
Some 40 GW of offshore wind energy should be online by 2020, with the majority being in the North Sea, he added, speaking at an event called ‘Offshore renewable energies: exploring the synergies’ in Brussels as part of the European week of regions and cities.
The 40 GW figure chimes exactly with EWEA’s target to have a minimum of 40 GW of offshore wind energy by 2020.
Harnessing offshore wind would be cheaper for the U.S. than continuing to drill for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast and it would also create more jobs, according to a new report issued this week.
An analysis by Oceana, an international organisation focused on ocean conservation, also found that a modest investment in offshore wind could supply almost half the current electricity generation on the East Coast.
The report, called “Untapped Wealth: The Potential of Offshore Energy to Deliver Clean, Affordable Energy and Jobs,” noted that the disastrous consequences of the April oil rig explosion and leak in the Gulf of Mexico underscore the high costs of heavy U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.
A new milestone in offshore wind energy was reached today as the world’s largest offshore wind farm opened off the east coast of the UK. The Thanet wind farm in Kent comprises 100 turbines which will be able to produce 300 MW of electricity, enough to power more than 200,000 homes a year.
Chris Huhne, UK environment secretary, is set to officially open the farm today. “We are an island nation and I firmly believe we should be harnessing our wind, wave and tidal resources to the maximum,” Huhne told the BBC.
Once Thanet is online, the amount of electricity generated by wind power in the UK will reach nearly 5 GW – or enough to power 3 million homes.
Maria McCaffery of Renewable UK said that Britain was on the verge of exporting wind powered electricity.
In keeping with its goal of rapidly ramping up the use of wind power and other renewables, South Korea is planning a $7.8-billion offshore wind farm complex that will initially feature 200 5MW wind turbines.
In addition, the highly-industrialised nation of 48.5 million people hopes by 2019 to have as many as 1,000 offshore wind turbines generating up to 5GW of electricity per hour, a Yonhap News Agency report said, adding that would be equivalent to the amount of electricity generated by four nuclear reactors.
The story is an example of forward-thinking Asian nations — China, India and South Korea among them — getting deeply involved in the expanding wind power sector and setting ambitious targets for harnessing green electricity to replace expensive and polluting fossil fuels.