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December 01, 2010

Glowing Report Card for Offshore Wind

Windwater A major report released today by the National Wildlife Federation and dozens of other organizations details the enormous potential for offshore wind power along the Atlantic coast. So far, offshore wind has seen a lot of talk but not much walk. Luckily, it has some friends in high places, namely Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The White House has indicated support for offshore wind time and time again. It's no secret that the country's persuit of this energy innovation hasn't been all that blustery given the amount of potential involved. How much potential are we talking about?  Via AP:

Of the 212 gigawatts of wind power potential off the Atlantic coast, wind projects harnessing 6 gigawatts have been proposed or are advancing through the permitting process, according to the report. Those proposed projects would generate the equivalent of up to a half dozen coal-fired plants, enough to supply the needs of about 1.5 million homes annually.

"Not a single offshore wind turbine is spinning off the Atlantic coast of the United States," the report says.

While Atlantic wind resources are largely untapped, European countries have more than 900 turbines producing enough power for at least 450,000 homes. Even offshore wind-power goals of European countries and China dwarf those of the United States.

An Oceana study in September came up with similar, exciting conclusions. And you can't spell "offshore wind" without j-o-b-s. (Or maybe you can, but you get the point.) The National Renewable Energy Laboratory figures a megawatt of offshore goodness equals 20 American jobs on American soil. More:

In Maine alone, the Ocean Energy Task Force says development of 5,000 megawatts of offshore wind would create 16,700 new or retained jobs per year for 20 years. The report also cites studies showing a potential for roughly 10,000 jobs in Virginia and nearly 2,000 jobs in South Carolina resulting from offshore wind.

So how many reports and studies is it going to take to get it going?

-- Brian Foley


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