The United States is now deliberating an energy policy that will have a powerful impact on the nation’s energy and economic health for decades, says a report recently issued by NREL. The following is excerpted from its executive summary.
The report provides an understanding of today’s wind industry and the offshore resource, as well as the associated technology challenges, economics, permitting procedures, along with potential risks and benefits. Appreciating all sides of these issues will help build an informed national dialog and shape effective national policies.
Offshore wind power and other renewable-energy sources can help build a diversified and geographically distributed U.S. energy mix, offering security against many energy supply emergencies. Wind power produces no harmful emissions, ground-level pollution, or public health issues.
The U.S.’ offshore wind-energy resources can significantly increase the wind industry’s contribution to the nation’s clean energy portfolio. The United States is fortunate to possess a large and accessible offshore wind energy resource. Wind speeds tend to increase significantly with distance from land, so offshore wind resources can generate more electricity than wind resources at adjacent land-based sites. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that U.S. offshore winds have a gross potential generating capacity four times greater than the nation’s present electric capacity. While this estimate does not consider siting constraints and stakeholder inputs, it clearly indicates that the U.S. offshore wind capacity is not limited by the magnitude of the resource. Developing the offshore wind resource along U.S. coastlines and in the Great Lakes would help the nation to:
Generate 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030. In assessing this potential, NREL’s least-cost optimization model found that 54 GW (54,000 MW) of added wind capacity could come from offshore wind.
Achieving 20% power from wind would provide significant benefits to the nation, such as increased energy security, reduced air and water pollution, and stimulate the domestic economy.
Revitalize the U.S. manufacturing sector. Building equipment to install 54 GW of offshore wind energy would generate an estimated $200 billion in new economic activity and create more than 43,000 permanent, well-paid technical jobs in manufacturing, construction, engineering, operations, and maintenance. Extrapolating from European studies, NREL estimates that offshore wind will create more than 20 direct jobs for every megawatt produced in the United States.
Provide clean power to coastal cities. High winds abound just off the coasts of 26 states. Suitable wind resources exist near large urban areas where power demand is steadily growing, electric rates are high, and space for new, land-based generation and transmission facilities is severely limited. These characteristics provide favorable market opportunities for offshore wind power to compete effectively in coastal regions.
Filed Under: News, Offshore wind