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February 07, 2011

A Little Offshore Love

WindwaterA few months ago we noted the rosy outlook for offshore wind, which made sense because White House officials have spoken so highly of this potentially huge resource. Studies have confirmed this potential. Even Google has thrown its hat into the ring.

But today's statement by administration officials has confirmed the buzz that has been brewing for quite some time. In a further step to get the ball rolling, or turbines moving, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Stephen Chu announced that the Department of Energy will devote up to $50.5 million over five years toward the development of offshore wind technology and the reduction of market-based barriers that keep this renewable-energy resource from taking off. Salazar and Chu specifically had the states of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia in mind when they spoke today:

Virginia has 94 gigawatts of capacity, for example, and if a tenth of that could be captured, it would meet the needs of three million homes, [Chu] said. Big parts of the Atlantic coast, with relatively shallow depths and a strong market onshore, are considered prime spots.
This inter-agency gesture is reassuring. Currently the U.S. has no offshore wind up and running, but construction for the Cape Wind project off of Massachusetts is inching toward the launch pad. In contrast, Europe and China are way ahead in the game.

Nevertheless, today's news is exciting and reflects the White House's seriousness with this innovative opportunity.

"The Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes hold tremendous potential for the kind of large-scale clean energy projects that will create jobs, breathe new life into our economy, and help make us a leader in the global clean energy marketplace," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in a statement. "As we continue to recover from the BP oil disaster and the 2008 TVA coal ash disaster, it's clearer than ever that we need to move swiftly to develop safe, responsible energy from sources like wind that won’t run out. Today's announcement is an important step toward swift, safe, and sustainable clean energy development."

Wind areas
(Image is from the Interior Department, via Green.)

-- Brian Foley

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