The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released a report that assesses the electricity generating potential of offshore wind resources in the United States. According to the assessment, the U.S. has 4,150 GW of potential wind turbine nameplate capacity (maximum turbine capacity) from offshore wind resources. The estimate does not describe actual planned offshore wind developments, nor does it consider that some offshore areas may be excluded from energy development because of environmental, human use, or technical considerations. In 2008, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated the nation’s total electric generating capacity from all sources at only 1,010 GW.
The 104-page 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 m/s (about 16 mph) at a height of 90 m (295 feet).The study assumed that 5 MW of wind turbines could be placed in every square kilometer of water that met these wind characteristics.
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