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Study: U.S. Offshore Wind Capacity Exceeds Total U.S. Electricity Generation

The electricity generating potential of offshore wind resources in the U.S. is 4,150 gigawatts (GW) based on offshore resources from 26 coastal states and the Great Lakes, according to the latest report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

NREL says, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the nation’s total electric generating capacity from all sources was 1,010 GW in 2008.

In February, NREL’s assessment showed that onshore U.S. wind resources were larger than previously estimated. A key finding indicated that onshore U.S. wind resources could generate nearly 37,000,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, more than nine times current total U.S. electricity consumption.

The offshore wind report’s estimate is based on the latest high-resolution maps predicting annual average wind speeds, and shows the gross energy potential of offshore wind resources.

The potential electric generating capacity was calculated from the total offshore area within 50 nautical miles of shore, in areas where average annual wind speeds are at least 7 meters per second (approximately 16 miles per hour) at a height of 90 meters (295 feet).

For purposes of this study, researchers assumed that 5 megawatts of wind turbines could be placed in every square kilometer of water that met these wind characteristics.

The report, “Assessment of Offshore Wind Energy Resources for the United States” (PDF) shows detailed resource maps and tables for the 26 coastal states and the Great Lakes by wind speed, water depth, and distance from shore.

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8 thoughts on “Study: U.S. Offshore Wind Capacity Exceeds Total U.S. Electricity Generation

  1. The U.S. stock market has been so busy chasing the economic data while the oil money, the significant chunk of red ink, has been spilling severely and doggedly.

    For example, what if a household spending far outweighs its earning ?

    To date, the Congress & just about media have been gripped by the infamous lobbyists, in place of FRESH IDEAS, which I feel results in this unimaginable phenomenon.

    It is claimed that : ” the U.S. uses about 24 percent of the world’s oil, this equates to 20.9 million barrels a day. If the U.S chooses to embrace renewable energy, the U.S could save $750 billion per year and create about 6 million jobs”.

  2. The report was released on Sept. 10. The date on the report reflects the date that NREL sent the report out for internal review. It typically takes several months for reports to be approved & available for the public, thus the reason for it being released on Friday, Sept. 10. The organization has wrestled with this “dating” issue but has not made any changes to its systems.

  3. Dennis,

    It won’t be easy, or fast; but we the people can eventually change that.

    By never ceasing to respond to national calls for senatorial letter-writing campaigns, telephone blitzes, etc.; by voting our environmental priorities in election after election; by participating personally in the ongoing conversion to alternative energy sources (like individual homeowners going solar); by continuing to participate in the public discourse and countering the oil & coal lobby shills making their false and misleading statements; and so on.

    Not a pretty situation. But we must persevere – and, eventually, we will.

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