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.